3 Tips for Real World Budgeting for College Students
As you enter your first year of college you are taking on more responsibility than you have ever known. One of the most important of the responsibilities is learning to budget your money and in this vein, differentiate your wants from your needs. Many students entering college for the first time have little experience managing their own money and they can fall into some familiar traps.
Here are three very common areas that you may want to think about before starting school.
Do you Really Need a Car
Cars are really expensive. Not only do you have the cost of gas but car’s requiring parking, insurance and maintenance. Many students leaving home for the first time feel as if they “need” a car but the truth is as a freshman living on campus you may simply find that you do not get much use of your car and that it is a major expense.
Keep in mind that if you are living at the dorms at college you will generally be walking to most of your classes and anything you need is probably either on campus or a short walk away. Is it really worth paying for insurance and parking if you rarely use your car?
So the answer is “no”. This equation may change however if you need a car to get to and from a part time job. Even if that is the case you may want to consider if an occasional bus or Uber ride makes better monetary sense.
Buy Used Books
Used books are one of the better kept secrets. While you have to be careful that the version of the book you are buying is the version your professor is utilizing to teach his or her classes, other than that this money saving techniques is a no brainer. You can not only look at your college’s bookstore for bargains on used text books but you can also look online from some great deals. The information is the same, the only difference is the amount of money you keep in your account when you buy used text book.
Monthly Income / Expenses
Where you are going to be living off student loans, allowance from parents or cash from a structured settlement you need to sit down and figure out what your month to month finances are going to look like. It is true that budgeting down the penny is nearly impossible and unexpected expenses will always pop up, it still makes sense to take pencil to paper and figure out how much you will likely need to get by each money and how much you expect to receive.
If the math puts you in the red (i.e, you are spending more than you are getting), then you either have to cut spending and find a way to increase your income. Whatever you do, avoid relying on credit cards as much as possible.
While your time in a college classroom will teach you invaluable information, some of the best lessons you will get from your time in college are the ones outside the classroom. Be mindful of budgeting, know you may make some mistakes but in the end don’t overspend and always balance what you need from what you want.