If you're a college student, with college expenses, and on a college budget, chances are you haven't had to make tough decisions about budgeting and finances yet. But soon the time will come when you don't have Mom and Dad to lean on for help with bills - and we know how that can be intimidating.
It doesn't have to be, though! With the right knowledge and preparation, you can tackle budgeting and finance like a pro. You might even find some unexpected benefits in the process!
In this article, we'll look at how to tackle budgeting and finance as a college student. We will also provide actionable advice on how to budget your income, manage your expenses, save for your future, and invest wisely.
So, if you are a college student struggling with finance or you would simply like to master it, keep reading!
Who knows, maybe by the end of this article you will know how to budget properly to save that extra money!
Know what your monthly income is
The first step in budgeting and finance as a college student is to know what your income is. Without having a good idea of the money coming in and out, budgeting can feel quite daunting, especially if you had no prior experience of doing anything similar back home!
This is why, it's important to estimate your estimated income from both your parents and potential jobs. You can also use calculators and budgeting apps to help you lay out your projected income for the next semester or year.
You should start by adding up anything you receive from your parents -if you do- or perhaps you work a part-time job that pays etc.
Once you know what your income is, suddenly it becomes easier to plan your expenditures accordingly. Allocate roughly 60% of your total income towards rent/mortgage and food costs with the remaining left over for other miscellaneous expenses such as transportation, entertainment, and books.
By knowing how much money you'll have each month, it will be easier to create a realistic financial plan that fits within the limits of your budget while still allowing yourself some leisure activities up to the strictures of your wallet!
Create a list of your monthly expenses
Creating a list of your monthly expenses is an essential step to success when it comes to budgeting and finance in college. This exercise will help you realize where your money is going, it helps you create a monthly budget, so you can make better decisions with your money.
Your list should include every expense, including rent, gas, food, activities and entertainment, your student loans if you have any, credit card debt, perhaps you take public transportation too etc.
Remember to also add any occasional costs that come up only once or twice a month like drug store visits, major purchases or any unexpected expenses that could potentially come your way!
Being aware of all the costs associated with being a college student will ensure that you know exactly how much is coming out of the bank each month. This will allow you to plan ahead and adjust accordingly if something unexpected pops up.
Last but certainly not least, knowing what each expense costs allows you to weigh potential financial commitments and make well-informed decisions about how best to use your money. Once you have created this list of expenses and checked it twice, it's time to start making smarter spending choices!
Separate your expenses between what is fixed and what is flexible
The key to being successful with budgeting and finance as a college student is to separate your expenses between what is fixed, and what is flexible. You should create two budget categories: one for fixed expenses like tuition and rent; and the other for flexible expenses like groceries or entertainment, or any other fun activity perhaps that you practice!
This is very helpful when it comes to setting a financial goal for yourself regardless of your student loans, your spending habits, or your overall financial situation.
Knowing the difference between fixed and flexible costs can help you figure out which parts of your budget and your spending habit that you actually have control over.
Fixed costs will stay the same month-to-month, while the amount spent on flexible expenses can vary based on your needs, wants, or income.
By categorizing your expenses in this way, you can prioritize your spending more easily - allocating funds where they are necessary first - before spending on "wants." By doing so, you can save money for future goals or an emergency expense fund.
Get to know your average monthly expense cost
Another important step to budgeting and finance is knowing your monthly expenses. You'll need to track your spending, and make sure you don't overspend each month.
Once you have a good idea of your average monthly expenses, you can start to create a budget that works for you. Start by setting limits on how much you will spend in each category. This will help keep your spending in check and ensure that you don't overspend.
You should also set aside some money each month for savings or an emergency fund. This will give you peace of mind knowing that you have a cushion in case something unexpected comes up.
You'll also want to track the money spent on entertainment or other extras as well. This will help you to determine how much 'fun' money you have each month!
In addition to tracking your expenses, be sure to check out different discounts and deals for college students. You may be able to find some great opportunities that can help bring down the cost of your average monthly expense!
Set up adjustments
Setting up adjustments is an essential step for college students when it comes to budgeting and finance. No matter what your budget is, adjusting your current spending habits to include saving money can help you stay on top of your budget.
Having a designated amount that you want to save each month will help establish long-term goals and discipline in understanding how much of your income should be allocated towards various expenses.
Furthermore, setting up adjustments will allow you to set aside funds for unexpected costs or emergencies. You'll have peace of mind knowing that if something happens, like a car repair or medical bill, that you have the emergency funds saved up in order to cover them.
Keep in mind that, setting up adjustments allows you to plan for future purchases such as textbooks and supplies - so that you can stay ahead of the game rather than waiting until school starts and having to make expensive last minute purchases.
Cook for yourself
Now that we got over the finance stuff, let's get into more tips that will help you in your daily life!
One of the best ways for college students to save money is to cook for themselves. Making your own meals can help you stretch your budget and guarantee that you're eating healthy.
You'll save the most money by avoiding takeout and fast food, which can add up quickly on a student's budget. Instead, stick with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, pastas, and grains. These are all much cheaper than pre-prepared meals or takeout and they can also be stored in bulk so you don't eat out of cans every night.
Better still, recipes usually call for many ingredients that can make multiple meals; that way, you won't end up throwing away food when the week is through! By preparing basic recipes that contain plenty of storage options, such as stews or casseroles, you'll be able to save time and money while still eating well.
Thrift whenever you can
Thrift shopping is a great way for college students to budget. You can find clothes, furniture, home décor and more at thrift stores or online second-hand shops without breaking the bank!
Shopping second-hand means you don't have to make rash decisions when it comes to spending. With less money on the line, you're more likely to hold off and wait until something really catches your eye.
If you're looking for certain items, such as clothing or furniture, try setting up a search alert with an online marketplace like eBay or Craigslist so that you can keep an eye out for bargains. Even if nothing pops up today, something might come along soon!
You'll also save time if you only visit thrift stores which will be convenient since most college students are already overwhelmed with work and studies.
Take advantage of the student discounts
As a college student, you have access to exclusive discounts on products and services you may need. These discounts come in many forms, from special student rates at stores or restaurants to discounted rental cars for students planning road trips.
Whether it is school supplies, or a simple cup of coffee in a coffee place where students go to study, they always have discounts for students that can truly affect your financial future as a college student for the better!
Take the time to identify which stores offer student discounts. Your school's low-cost online store is a great starting point. Plus, your college ID can be used to tap into dozens of student discount programs and websites!
Another perk of being a college student is that you can also get free or discounted subscriptions to various software tools and digital platforms. Look into some of the popular student deals such as Spotify Premium Student, Adobe Creative Cloud Student Edition, Amazon Prime Student membership and other great money-saving opportunities.
Your pocketbook will definitely appreciate it if you take the time to explore the best deals out there!
Overall, budgeting and finance can be a tricky process for college students. However, with the right tips and strategies in place, it doesn't have to be a daunting task.
If you take the time to create an effective budget, save money strategically, and take advantage of resources that can help you manage your finances better, then budgeting and finance will become much easier to handle.
Remember that sound financial management is one of the primary keys to success for any college student!
Ok, that's it for today. We hope you found value in the article. As you know Harrington Housing is the biggest provider for coliving in New York City. If you're a student looking for coliving options in NYC then definitely check our available furnished rooms for rent.
See you in the next article!