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surviving on a college budget

Learning to Survive on a College Budget

Brink's Money

08 Sep 2021

Effective money management is an essential life skill and one that you start understanding more as a college student. When you head off to college you earn more responsibilities like living on your own, feeding yourself, and keeping an eye on your finances. Whether you get a job while on campus or your family is helping you out financially, you have a source of income that will help you get by and you’ll need to know how to allocate adequately. Learning to live on a college budget is a process that takes some thought and practice so it’s okay if you don’t get it right away. We’ve outlined a few tips to help get you started:

Learn How to Cook

You may not realize it but eating out several times a day or throughout the week can burn a hole in your pocket faster than anything else. We understand that you probably have a lot on your plate and grabbing something quick to eat can be easy but this is a habit you can work on to break. Eating out once in a while doesn’t hurt but it can be far cheaper to prepare your meals at home. Figuring out how to make meals you enjoy at home can be healthier and fun as well as a skill you can use for the rest of your life. There are countless sites that can provide you with quick and easy recipes that will help save you a few extra dollars. 

Search for Discounts

One of the greatest perks to being in college are all the opportunities for a student discount. Your student ID is there to grant you access around campus but it also serves as your ticket to save money in places around town or even online. There’s no secret that college is expensive so you might as well make the most of that ID. 

Anticipate Your Expenses

When it comes to managing your money in college, one of the most important aspects is anticipating your expenses. By outlining everything you will need to account for, you’ll get a better understanding about where your money should be going. A few examples of college-related expenses are:

  • Textbooks

  • Rent

  • Food

  • School supplies

  • Household items

  • Transportation

  • Utilities

  • Clothing

  • Entertainment

Calculate Your Income

The money you bring in each month is an essential part of your monthly budget. Whether you have a part-time job or get assistance through scholarships or loans, it’s important that you make note of this income because it is essentially how much you have available to spend. When you know how much you make, then you will be able to set a budget for yourself. 

Track Your Spending

Anticipating your expenses and calculating your income are vital but don’t forget to track your spending. The most effective way to get a handle on your finances is to know exactly how you’re spending your money. Keeping an eye on your purchases can also help you figure out where you can make cuts if you find yourself wanting to save more. 

Distinguish Between Needs and Wants

An essential money skill that you’ll get the hang of as you do more budgeting is distinguishing between your wants and needs. Noting this key difference in your expenses will help you determine if you have the resources to spend on the kinds of things that would be nice to have or are necessary to your current situation. As you better understand your finances then you can figure out what expenses you can incorporate into your budget based on priority and importance. 

Make Extra Cash

If you find that you have some spare time in your schedule and want to make some extra cash, then try looking for a part-time job. Not only would a job help you have cash available for everyday expenses, but it would also look great on your resume when applying for more jobs later. The possibilities for a job while in college are endless and if you can land a job that ties back to your major, even better because you’ll be gaining real world experience and earning an income. 

Have Roommates

One of the easiest ways to cut down on your expenses as a student is to live with roommates. If you are living on your own, you’ll be solely responsible for taking care of rent and utilities. When you live with at least one roommate, you see that the burden of rent is reduced immensely. Another bonus to having roommates is that you might even make a few great friends. 

College is a learning experience and not just because you’re working hard to earn your degree but you are also handling your money and expenses. Effective money management is not something you learn overnight and as a student you’re dealing with new responsibilities. Money management on a college budget shouldn’t be a pain but with a few helpful tips you can be on your way to effectively handling your finances. 

Want to get a head start on managing your expenses? Learn more about how you can get control with the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mastercard. 

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