5 Steps to Smart College Budgeting
When you heard the word ‘budgeting,’ what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Lots of people think of math. That’s why not too many folks are excited when they need to make their weekly or monthly budget. However, budgeting can be super fun – not to mention that it is extremely useful.
Budgeting can help you learn how to make the most of the money you have. It is actually all about spending wisely. College budgeting can help you live comfortably instead of always worrying about money. Learning how to budget at college can also help you later in life, especially when you find a job.
Here’s how to get started:
Budgeting is all about organization. You need to track what is going out of your pocket and what is coming in. Start writing down your monthly income. It is important to include all sources of income, such as salary from a part-time job, savings, scholarships, grants, and contributions from family members as well. Knowing how much money you have can allow you to adjust your expenses and manage your money smartly.
Tracking your expenses can help you understand where your money is going. You will probably notice that this list is way longer than your income list. That’s normal – you won’t just have to pay for things like bills or college tuition, you’ll also want to buy yourself new things and have fun along the way.
You can split your expenses into two categories. Start with things you know you definitely have to pay, like your tuition fee, books, supplies, travel expenses, checking account fees, rent, groceries, and utilities. This is the list of your fixed expenses.
Next, write down other expenses such as eating out, clothing, cell phone bill, Internet, gas, and entertainment, among others.
To estimate your monthly expenses, you should also start recording everything you spend money on. You can be surprised how much money goes on stuff you don’t need. Work on your budget until the expenses are less than the income.
Tracking your income and expenses can help you spend your money in a smart way. With your income list and expenses list, you can learn now to prioritize. Cover the high priority bills first. These must be paid off.
Then, you’ve got to use the money you have left as wisely as possible in order to do the things you enjoy. You should spend your money on what makes you happy, but there is a difference between wanting something and really, really wanting something. This is where your budgeting skills will be put to the test.
In addition to spending money on what makes you happy, it’s also a nice idea to help someone who has less money than you. You can help a friend pay for their books or you can help a complete stranger. There are many ways to give back to the community – charities, non-profits, and, shelters, just to name a few. Helping someone in need will also help you feel better, knowing that you have done something really good.
College budgeting can be challenging. However, there are different ways to save money and cut down your expenses. You have many student discounts available. You can use your student ID card to save money. When going out for a movie, sporting event, concert or a dinner, always check if they offer discounts or special promotions for students.
When planning for a monthly budget, you should always include savings. This doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but it is important to have an emergency fund for unexpected costs. You can also set some money aside for something you want to purchase such as a new computer, just make sure not to spend that money until you have reached your goal.
Balancing your budget includes many things, from tracking your expenses and finding ways to save money to increasing your income and using student discounts or promotions. It may not be easy in the beginning but budgeting is a really important skill that can help you make sound financial decisions in the future. Budgeting can make your college life much easier as well.
If you’d like to talk about budgeting with one of our student advisors or check if you qualify for financial aid, please give us a call today! You can reach us at 1-(800) 998-2678 or visit www.LAORT.edu! We’re happy to help!