Life as a college student is anything but inexpensive. Budgeting for the cost of living, tuition & books, technology, a car, and social activities adds up quickly, leaving you with little to no wiggle room when it comes to expendable income.
The time you spend in college, while educationally productive, should also include some trips and activities that will become impractical once you have a full-time job and a family. The key to having enough money to have fun while also meeting the financial needs of your education is to budget.
Budgeting is the process of realistically analyzing all your mandatory expenses, your living expenses, and your recreational expenses and then utilizing your financial resources to meet those financial responsibilities. Successful budgeting requires that you create a plan based on your expenses and resources and then follow that budget.
Examine Your Financial Resources
Financial resources are the methods by which you can obtain income. As a student there are a variety of options available to you. Start by making a list of all your current and potential sources of income for the semester.
Many students receive at least a portion of their income from their parents. If you are lucky enough to have this as an option, write down how much assistance you will receive from them and note what the money is to be used for. Additionally most students take student loans out to help cover the cost of their education. You can speak to your school’s financial aid office to get more information about what loans and grants you qualify to apply for.
If you feel that school loans and family help are not quite enough to cover your expenses, you can also get a job. Many students are able to use a part-time job as supplemental income to fund their free time. Part-time employment opportunities may be found through your school’s job board and in the local community. Having even a part time job will open other means of loans up to you such as payday loans or cash advances which you can utilize responsibly when needs be.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
Now that you know how much money you can expect to receive for the semester, you will want to create a detailed list of all your expenses. Start with the non-negotiable fixed expenses. List the cost of Tuition, books, rent, and any bills like a car and phone payments.
Next take a look at additional non-negotiable expenses like electric and gas bills, internet, food, and clothing. Estimate the monthly cost of these expenses and add them to the budget. Only after you have included all of your essential expenses can you look at budgeting for social activities, trips, and other pastimes that you enjoy.
You now have a sum total for income and expenses for the semester. Do your expenses exceed your income? If they do, you need to reexamine your expenses. Look for ways to trim your budget down. Do you need the latest phone and most expensive plan? Can you eliminate the cost of going out to eat often? Can you purchase used books instead of new ones? Can you take public transit instead of paying the high cost of fuel for your car?
If you ever find yourself strapped for cash and in need of money on short notice there are a few options available. You can check with your school to see what emergency loan options are available. Additionally, Check City offers online payday loans which can provide a quick, easy solution to unexpected expenses between paychecks.
Work to make your expenses fit within your income and create detailed plan of how much you are able to spend and what the money should be spent on. Take care to set aside some money for emergencies, and don’t forget to spend at least a little bit on yourself.