It’s Friday night and your friends have invited you to dinner. Despite the fact that the restaurant is a no-thrills fast food place with student discounts, your card gets declined. Embarrassed and worried, you frantically log into your bank account and realize your balance has hit zero. You’re not sure how this happened, but as your search through your purchase history, you notice a long list of food delivery charges, expensive manicures, and sneaky charges from subscription services you don’t even remember getting.
Does this sound familiar? If you have ever experienced large bank account charges, you might not be budgeting your expenses properly or for that matter at all.
It might not sound like something you really need, but having a budget in college can help you save money and avoid having embarrassing moments where your card gets declined. Having a general idea of what you can spend during a week or month, can really help you spend your money effectively. Plus, you’ll have a much better idea of what you can and can’t afford. Putting limits on what you can and can’t buy might not sound fun, but it will help you avoid pricey charges in the future. In general, having a budget might sound tedious or boring, but it is definitely worth it.
So now, you hopefully want to start budgeting. How do you do it exactly? You may have no idea because many of us were never taught how to set up a budget. Unfortunately, despite being taught numerous historical facts and the basics of Spanish, most of us went to high schools where budgeting skills were never part of the lesson plan. So making a budget during college can seem like a foreign and scary thing to do for many of us. But budgeting doesn’t have to be a horror story. It is actually relatively easy to do. Here’s a basic guide on how to budget during college.
Categorize Your Expenses
What are you spending your money on? Food? Groceries? Gas? Furthermore, what do you need to spend money on? Categorize them, and consider limiting spending on certain categories that you don’t really need like say jewelry shopping. With that being said, make sure you add the less “important” stuff to your budget you don’t really think about. For example, do you spend a lot of money on TV Subscriptions or going out to see movies? Consider adding an entertainment category. Do you like playing video games? Then add a game category. This will help you balance everything out and consciously think about what you spend your money on.
Limit Nonessential Expenses
Do you get a coffee everyday from Starbucks? Does dinner come from Postmates every night? Then you might want to consider limiting spending on nonessential things. These seemingly small expenses can add up quickly. For example, to limit spending money on food, direct that spending to mostly groceries and allow yourself to eat out only twice a week. This will help you save a large amount of money in the long run. It might sound difficult at first to not get a pick me up from your favorite cafe every day, but your bank account will thank you.
Eliminate Subscription Services You Don’t Need
Many students today have numerous subscription services, not all of which are utilized often enough for them to be worth it. Many sites and apps reel us in with student discounts or even extended free trials. Amazon for one lets students use their prime membership for a couple months for free. These offers are all too tempting for us college students. At first, the benefits are great, until suddenly the trial wears off and we are getting charged the normal rate. Slowly, these subscriptions sneakily cut into our bank account, taking our money away. And sadly, many of us don’t even utilize these subscription services anymore. That’s why it’s super important to check your bank statements for little charges. Make sure you aren’t spending money on a service you don’t use anymore. And if you are, cancel it ASAP.
Be On The Lookout For Student Discounts
Student discounts are a godsend, but few students use them. Many stores near your campus likely offer discounts to students if you have your student ID card, so be sure to check out the places around your college to see if you can save some money. Make sure also to always have your student ID with you, because many stores expect some form of proof you are actually a student. You can also check out sites like Unidays which have various sites that offer discounts and deals for college students. Some of the deals for college students are definitely a steal, so be sure to check it out. You can easily save a little bit of money by utilizing your student ID and email address.
If Anyone Else Is Helping Support You, Discuss Your Budget With Them
If you’re not financially independent yet or are receiving some money from your parents or other relatives, make sure to discuss your budget with them and what they are comfortable with you spending money on. For example, if your parents gave you some money for college, they may only want you to spend it on things like textbooks and college supplies. Make sure that both of you have a general idea of how the money they give you is going to be spent, and what it is ok to spend the money on.
Utilize Budgeting Apps
Technology has made budgeting so much easier these days, so you don’t have to do it all by yourself. You don’t have to do everything by pen and paper, and certain things you don’t even have to worry about figuring out yourself these days. You can utilize budgeting apps like Mint, which helps you track your spending habits and Wally, which helps prevent you from overspending. Just browse the app store and you are bound to find some useful budgeting apps for your phone.