How to Budget Your Way Through College (Part 1)

If you’re a college student chances are you’re broke. Or maybe you have money saved up, but you know it’s about to go towards books and tuition so in the near future you’ll be broke. As a college student you might as well have zero dollars in your bank account at all times.

If you’re parents are paying or helping you pay for your college, then I may be slightly jealous, but this post still relates to you. There will come a time in your life where you’ll have to stop relying on your parents for things. For some, like me, this may have happened at 16-18, for others it may be after you graduate college and acquire a steady job.

Although I do have to pay for my tuition, along with many other things, I am still living at home rent free. Attending community college was a choice I did for my bank account and sanity. I can assure you that it wasn’t because I can’t bear to leave my parents, or the town where everyone knows everyone.

Here are some tips and tricks that help me save to avoid student loans and mountains of debt after graduation.

1. Work! I know, it seems pretty obvious, right? The amount of students not working while at school though is large. To many students it seems impossible to manage your classes and homework load not to mention working on the side.  However, if you learn to manage your time you can still get A’s and earn a little extra cash. Find a job that works well with your schedule, and communicate with them what you believe you can handle. An on campus job is probably the best route if possible. Even if it’s 5 hours a week, at 9 dollars an hour that’s $45 you didn’t have before.

As a full time student, I am able to nanny about 6 hours a week, and work about 20 hours a week. Sure, I usually am pretty busy, but I find time to do the things I enjoy.

2. Give yourself a percentage. If you have a job, give yourself a percentage of every paycheck for spending. 20% of every paycheck is for spending, and the 80% goes straight to savings.

3. Stop your pointless spending. Who doesn’t love a cup of Joe in the morning to kick us into gear? It’s amazing how quickly the money you’re spending on fru fru coffee adds up. I know, you’re probably thinking how could you possibly go without your Starbucks fix? I hate to break it to you, but coffee isn’t cheap at places like Starbucks and Biggby. Say you spend $4 at a coffee joint, 4 four times a week. That’s $16 dollars a week, $64 a month, and $768 a year.  If you limited it to once a week, you’d be saving $576 a year and probably would look forward to it more. For the other days of the week buy a 12 oz. bag of coffee grounds that usually are around $4, but make approximately 40 cups.

4. Write it out. It may seem tedious, but write down every dollar you make or spend and what you spend it on. It puts things into perspective. At the end of the month calculate it and figure out what you’ve earned that month. If you’re really inspired, look for things you can cut back on.

5. Give yourself goals. Things like “By the end of this month, I want to have $4,000 in my account.” Incentive is always helpful. Maybe it means no going out to dinner this month, or picking up a few extra shifts at work.

I hope someone finds one or more of these 5 simple tips helpful. They aren’t realistic to everyone, but maybe you can catch onto one and see if it helps you save.

Maybe you’re not saving for college, but a vacation or something different. Do you have any special tips or tricks to help you save? Let me know, I’m always open to suggestions and would love to hear from you!

The Start of Something New

Tomorrow at 10:20 A.M. marks the beginning of my college education, and that’s insanity. 

Where in the world did the last twelve years of grade school go? It seems like just months ago I was home schooled hiding my homework pages behind furniture; telling my mom I lost them. (Surprisingly she usually bought it..)

It feels like just weeks ago I was begging my parents to let me go to middle school at our local public school district; resentful that I wasn’t able to be “normal.”

It feels like days ago my best friend and her dad picked me up for my first day of public school as a fourteen year old. (Remember, homeschooled)

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years; and suddenly (or not so suddenly), a dozen years of education are beyond me. 

So tomorrow begins a new adventure. I have no clue what to expect, I’m unprepared, and slightly nervous. But if I can go from being homeschooled to going to public school I think I’ll manage. 

When Everyone’s Leaving

Freshman year of college is upon me and my fellow high school graduates. If I were to do what most do I’d be packing (way too much) to head off to a college that is way too expensive.  But I’m not, and that’s hard for me. 

Instead, I’m living at home with my parents and attending community college.

As I scroll through Instagram I see my friends posing in their new dorm rooms many adventures ahead of them. On Twitter I see, “Bye St. Joe, hello college!” Or “JUST ORDERED MY FIRST PIZZA AS A COLLEGE STUDENT!” (I have strange friends.) While parents post on Facebook about being empty nesters sending their baby off to adulthood. And I can’t relate. 

What I can relate to is having to pay for college on my own. 

Making the tough decision to stay home and save thousands of dollars. (Doesn’t sound tough.)

Living with my parents. 

Working through school. 

And seeing people get  away from the town where everyone knows everyone; a fresh start. 

Sure, it’s not my ideal situation, but it is what it is. I know that this decision will prevent me from having four years of debt but rather two.

What helps me through it?

A few of my close friends are staying right beside me in the town we grew up in. 

The amount of money I’m saving… Let’s just say my bank account is thankful and so is my sanity. 

I get to stay with my dog. 🙂

I have a job that works around my schedule very well.

And I’ll get my chance, eventually. 

Making the right choice financially sometimes stinks, but it’s worth it in the long run and that’s what really counts.

Never Too Old

Everyone knows or has known a child who constantly asks questions. A child attempting to gain knowledge from any source possible. “But why?” They say repeatedly in their adorable voices.

That wondering is still there floating around, but it gets harder and harder to ask the questions that boggle us because as adults we’re called to know; when frankly, that’s unrealistic.

Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that keep you up at night. Don’t fear being scoffed at, go to someone who will help you expand your knowledge as best as they can.

Ask questions and be life long learners.

It’s Okay Not to Know

Firefighter, photographer, social case worker, teacher, hair dresser, architect, lawyer, judge, police officer, writer, mattress tester (best job ever right?), coast guard, coach.
All of these listed are phases I’ve gone through for career choices. All at different age levels, some more recent than others.

In my 18 years I haven’t decided what I want to do with my life, I have a few ideas but nothing set in stone. I’ve decided to go into communications because with that degree I can do a few different occupations I’m interested in.

What I’ve learned in the past year is that knowing when you’re 18 is so unrealistic. How am I, barely an adult, supposed to know what I want to do for the next 35 years?

For those who know, and actually stick to that major, good for you. That’s amazing and I’m slightly jealous.

To those who don’t, it’s okay! Chances are you’re going to change your major at least once in college anyway so why waste time and money on classes you don’t need? Why do something you won’t be happy with. Wait it out, one day, it will come to you, I promise.

We’re young adults and it’s sad that were pressured to have our life all figured out. We should be enjoying these years because once they’re gone they’re gone.

What has your experience been with career choices? Did you know right off the bat or did it take you awhile? Did you feel pressured to know? Feel free to share. 🙂