Being in college means you’re already independent enough to make your own decisions. You have to make your meals on your own, balance your responsibilities well and do chores once you’re in college. This is especially true when you’re living in a dorm. But among all the things you have to manage in college, your finances are probably the most crucial. Not being able to manage your money effectively might result in starving yourself or not being able to purchase supplies you need at school. This is why you should know how to budget. Once you do, you’ll be able to make the most out of your finances without compromising anything. Let the tips help you effectively manage your finances:
1.) Create a budget: A budget is vital for you to handle your finances well. List down the amount of money you’re getting every week or month and indicate your expenses during the same period. This can include your dorm rent (if you’re renting one), school supplies, personal care items, meal plan and laundry expenses. It would also help if you include the following considerations in your budget:
- Include emergency funds in your budget. This can be used whenever you’re sick or when your car broke down and needed immediate repairs. When you have an emergency fund, you’ll be able to take care of financial emergencies without sacrificing other parts of your budget.
- It might be hard but you should separate your wants from needs. As much as you’re free to do whatever you want in college, you don’t have the budget for all of these. Focus on your needs first so you can have enough money for it.
- Just because you came up with a budget before the school year started, doesn’t mean that you have to follow it until you graduate. Don’t be afraid to review and recalculate your budget whenever needed. If you found out that you need more money with your meals and lesser in your school supplies, make adjustments in the next month.
2.) Pay cash for small expenses: When you’re buying groceries or books, pay with your cash. Do the same when you’re going out with friends as well. Paying with cash will make you more conscious of how much you’re spending unlike when you’re paying with your credit card or check.
3.) Don’t invest in a credit card yet: If you don’t have a credit card yet, the better. Most often than not, a credit card will only tempt you to live outside your means. You’ll purchase too many items – items which you don’t even need – because you have the convenience of paying for it. Having a credit card without the resources of paying for it can also result to debts – and that’s not a good way to start your college life.
4.) Don’t overbuy at the grocery store: Buying groceries once every month might save you time but this can be bad for your wallet. Remember that foods are perishable. If you buy too many groceries before you can actually consume them, these will rot. You might end up throwing more foods than actually eating it. This means you’re wasting money on food supplies.
5.) Know how to cook: Regardless of where you’re going for college, it’s safe to assume that this university will be surrounded with a lot of food establishments. Don’t let these establishment become your go-to place for all of your meals. Their meals might be fast and convenient but eating outside too often can put a hole in your pocket. For you to save, learn to cook meals on your own. There are a lot of recipes available online so even if you’re a beginner in the kitchen, there will be a dish perfect for you. Start with the basics and gradually look for more complex recipes. Once you’re back home, your parents will be surprised how you can do wonders in the kitchen!
6.) Look for part-time jobs: If your schedule allows it, apply for part-time jobs. There are many restaurants which employ college students as cashiers, servers or crews so look out for these. The money you’ll earn here can help with your budget. This can also become an avenue for you to learn important skills useful when you’re employed. Plus, a college student who has experience in working will always be attractive in the eyes of an employer.
7.) Turn off the cable: Missing out with your favorite TV shows might be hard but if it’s for your college expenses, it should be worth it. If you have a cable subscription in your dorm, have it cut. You don’t have to worry though because there are a lot of websites which airs episodes online after it airs.
When you’re in college, you’re expected to fit all of your expenses in the budget given to you. And not having your parents to help with your decisions or save you during trying times can add to the challenge. Instead of looking at budgeting as a task you can’t accomplish, consider it as a practice – remember that you’ll be living the same way once you start to work. There are also a lot of resources which can help you manage your finances well. Look for these sources, use these during your college life and everything will come off easier once you enter the world of employment!
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