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!