This post is all about creating a college budget.
Every college blog I read they create a cute little budget tracker and try to get you to download it. A college budget is so much more than a cute printable sis.
I know you hear it all the time. You have to budget! You have to budget! Yea, yea, yea I hear you but who has actually had someone sit down and show them what a budget is?
Not me. I heard it all my life and I know what a budget is
I’m not dumb and why it is important but I had no clue on how to set one up for myself.
As a teenager with my own job I was determined to save money for college so that I wouldn’t be broke and roaming around campus looking for coins on the ground.
So I saved and saved but when it was time to go to school I was broke! I had spent my money on getting ready for college. Application fees, testing fees, and dorm room decor ate my money up so fast it was ridiculous.
If I had a working budget that was telling me what I was bringing in versus what I was spending I would have stood a better chance at having a little bit of spending room my freshman year.
This posts shows you how to make a college budget.
Just Do It: Make a College Budget
Like Nike. Budgeting isn’t hard. It’s just something you have to adjust your lifestyle around. However, you don’t need a degree in accounting and financials to understand how important it is to create a college budget.
Here are a few tips to help you control your millionaire mentality with your college coins.
Make a List of Fixed Expenses
First things first, find out what you have to spend money on and list them all in priority order.
For example, if you know you have to pay rent then rent should come first. If you have a car note and you don’t mind living in your car lol then the car note will come first.
List them all out and estimate how much you will need for each listed item. Also one of your expenses should be your own savings account.
It’s important to pay yourself along with your other responsibilities because you are indeed a responsibility as well. If you need an outline go to Excel. There are several templates available.
This post may contain an affiliate link or two, which means I’ll receive a commission if you make a purchase through my link, this doesn’t cost you anything extra. Feel free to read the full disclaimer.
Track Recent Spending
Most of mine was being spent on food which is a major problem. I had to start grocery shopping and stop going out to grab something quick.
Add up how much you spend on food, entertainment, clothes and transportation (gas, uber, lyft..etc.). Keep up with this information so you will know where you can make cut backs.
Make Your College Budget Reasonable
We know that sh*t happens. Its life. There is going to be a month that something unexpected happens and you have to end up spending more than you budgeted to spend.
Don’t stress yourself and do not freak out. It will be okay. Your budget is an outline not a contract you don’t have to follow it to a T every time all the time. It takes time to adapt a budget to your lifestyle.
I recommend that you review your spending for at least a 3 month period so you can get an idea of what you spend anyway so that you won’t make a budget that doesn’t fit your life. Make it fit YOU!
Know Your Debt Inside and Out
Nobody wants to have debt it’s scary its and its a hassle. But, college is expensive and the average person doesn’t have thousands of dollars hidden away in a secret account to put towards college.
I wish! The average student loan debt is a little over $37k after graduation. Knowing this, you should prepare yourself to make payments on your loans as soon as you are financially capable of doing so.
Find out if you can make payments while you are still enrolled. Contact your loan provider ahead of graduation to know all of your payment options and what would be best for you and your budget.
Get a professional loan officer to explain to you what interest is and how it will be applied to your loans over time. Ask questions and don’t stop asking until you have a clear understanding. It’s your money and your future.
College Budget 101: Evaluate Your Income
Now you need a snapshot of where your money is coming from. Include every stream of income you have. Money from your parents included as well as scholarships and job income if you have one.
This will give you a net income total that will provide the foundation of where all this money will be spent and what will be left over. Do you need more money for your budget? Of course you do! Who doesn’t?
No one wants to feel like they can’t afford to have fun and do all the things you see other people enjoying. Staying on a budget is hard work and it requires discipline.
You don’t have to miss out on enjoying college life you just have to cut back on things that aren’t as important as a plane to ticket back home for the holidays.
That late night grubhub order was legit I know you were hungry but was that delivery fee worth it? Asking yourself “Is it worth it?” BEFORE you purchase will help you save money and keep you from making compulsive purchases.
Stop Swiping That Damn Card
Its so easy to swipe, swipe, swipe away. All your money on an easy access little piece of plastic in your pocket is dangerous.
You should take some cash out of your account and only use that money on things you might buy on an impulse.
This forces you to stay diligent about spending money because you actually see it leaving your hand and wallet. Once that money is gone don’t go back and get more! I’m watching you!
Don’t be ashamed to sign up for rewards cards at grocery stores. They offer perks that can save you significant money on groceries and gas.
Use Your Credit Card Responsibly
Most people tell you to stay away from credit cards in college. I totally understand why they would say that. Credit card debt plagues Americans by the masses.
Using a credit card should be a way to save money to pay the credit card. Lets say you use the credit card to pay for a book you needed for class.
Instead of using the cash you have readily available you now have until the next billing cycle to put away enough money to pay for that book. By the time the bill comes due you should have saved enough to pay the bill in full.
This establishes good credit and makes your credit score attractive. Once you graduate and move into this real adulting thing you will realize how much your credit score really matters.
This will bring a TON of new credit card offers your way. DON’T DO IT! One low interest credit card is enough for now. If you want to compare credit cards that are tailored just for you check out Credit Karma.
They will give you suggestions on what credit cards you should apply for based off your credit score that they also provide you for FREE which is always great.
What do you do to stay financially afloat in college? Help a sister out!
Leave a comment below!