Starting college means becoming more responsible in many aspects of your life. You become more apt in managing your time with schoolwork, deadlines and taking time for yourself. One difficult responsibility that you accrue is the budgeting of your finances.
It is hard enough coming up with ways to pay for your college tuition, but you still have to pay rent, eat and even take that occasional social outing. Many students find it difficult to create a budget and stick with it; in fact, a lot of people do not only students. A budget, though, can be your best “financial” friend, especially during college.
These next few tips will help you successfully create and manage a budget.
Be Realistic: Do not set yourself up for failure. Set reasonable goals when starting a budget. For example, if you normally spend about $150 a month for coffee, do not allow for only $10 a month for it. You will most likely not stick with that allotted amount. Try to be reasonable and budget to your current spending patterns and slowly make changes over a few months.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Keep up the motivation when you budget, it can be what makes you or breaks you. Like your college degree, it must be something you want for yourself or it will not happen. Before starting, answer this question, why you want to do this? Your answers can vary from pay off debt, save for a specific reason or just to have more control over your finances, but your answer will also be your focus.
Build a Savings: As a budget category make sure you allow for a savings. Retirement may seem very far away but it will come all too quickly if you do not start saving now. Putting aside a little during college will later multiply exponentially by the time you retire. Saving now will avoid saving much more at a later time. Saving can be tricky, but not impossible. Trimming from other unnecessary expenses will help.
Luxury Spending: Dedicating a certain amount of money to “spending” will make budgeting a bit more reachable. Of course, the amount will vary. Do not budget too low or extravagantly high, but once you set a limit, try not to exceed it even if you favorite store is having a sale.
Prepare for Emergencies: Budget for unexpected “emergencies.” Things like a car breakdown, a sick family member or a stolen bike can be bearable if you have the funds available to deal with it.
This allocation can be built up month by month. Try to keep about $1,000 in there, so if an emergency does happen, it will not leave you broke.
Be Careful of the Little Things: That dollar spent for a snack or that 50 cents spent for candy can add up and break your budget. Be aware of your expenditures, even those small ones and keep that budget on track.
These simple tips can help you keep your college years debt free and help your finances in the future.