College isn't cheap. Even with scholarships, there’s still a lot of pay for: housing, books, groceries, gas—plus, you shouldn’t overlook spending some money to have fun. One thing almost all college students have in common is not having enough money, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With some diligent financial planning, a little creativity, and a bit of effort, students can live comfortably on or off campus without having to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
3 important steps to follow
There are three cornerstones of financial survival in college: Setting up a budget, saving money, and earning extra cash. Some tasks are rather easy, such as calculating expenses and sources of income. The most challenging aspect of financial survival is usually saving money. Nobody likes to cut back on discretionary spending, especially when it comes to food, drink, and entertainment. And while an important part of college is socializing, if frivolous spending is creating an endless financial hangover, those social activities won’t be nearly as much fun. Start saving with these ideas about how to manage your money and get the most out of your college experience!
How to create a college budget
- List all your monthly expenses, including tuition, room and board, textbooks and school supplies, transportation, personal spending, and frivolous spending.
- List all your monthly sources of income/cash.
- Make sure your expenses do not exceed your sources of income/cash.
- Track your expenses as they add up.
Related: Money Management: The Best Budgeting Templates for Students
Tips for saving money at school
- Buy or rent used textbooks.
- Make your own coffee or tea.
- Take advantage of free meals offered on campus.
- Don’t use your credit card unless you have to.
- Pay your credit card bill in full every month.
- Pay all of your bills on time.
- Buy food and drink items that are on sale.
- Shop around before renting an apartment.
- Find the least expensive cellular plan that fits your needs.
- Use your phone only when necessary.
How to earn extra cash
- Sell your used textbooks.
- Become a tutor.
- Babysit, house sit, or dog sit.
- Become a driver for Uber, Lyft, or other driving services.
- Get a work-study job on campus.
- Sell clothes you don’t wear anymore on websites like Ebay or Poshmark.
With these practical, easy-to-implement tips, even college students with one or two years under their belts may learn something new to help them spend more time on their studies and less time worrying about finances. Good luck and happy saving!
While you’re working on your budget, use our Scholarship Search tool to find extra money for college!