Being a college student can be financially stressful, to put it lightly. Not only are you likely already in debt, but it seems like you never have enough money for your day to day life. One of the reasons it can seem that way is because keeping track of your spending and where your money is going can be difficult.
Creating a budget in college may not sound like the most glamorous or fun thing to do, but not only will it help you keep track of you money, it will also help you spend less and save up. Here are a few tips for getting started:
1. Digitize Your Money
Cash may seem like the way to go, but how often do you lose, misplace or just ignore your small bills and coins? If you digitize your money, e.g. paying using your debit card, you can track every cent and have a log of what you spent your money on without having to do it yourself. Stocking up on change might seem like a good idea, but coin machines often charge a large amount of money to convert to bills, which makes it not worth the trouble unless you have hundreds of dollars in change.
Think about getting a phone with mobile pay to make digitizing your money even easier. For example, the iPhone 6s features Apple Pay which uses Touch ID to verify a purchase made on your phone, so it’s safer than ever before.
2. Start Setting Savings Goals
Online apps and banks, like Simple.com, let you set goals on your phone to further facilitate saving. Whether your want to save up for something specific or for a rainy day, setting a few bucks on the side is never a bad idea and can help prepare you for big-time savings that will come after college.
3. Cut Out the Non-Essentials
This is the hard part. The easiest way to save money when budgeting is to take a hard look at what you’re already spending your money on and cut out the things that you don’t absolutely need.
If you have a gym membership that you haven’t used in a few months, you should probably cancel it and save yourself that money. Instead of eating out once a day, try cooking more often and eating out only once a week. If you’re spending large amounts of money on online gaming, you should probably skip a few hours a day and study anyway. Double incentive.
4. Set Money Aside for the Things You Really Need
Think about how much money you need for your essentials that will last you until your next paycheck and set that money aside as soon as you get paid. When you start budgeting for stuff like food, the easiest way to figure out how much money to set aside is to go grocery shopping with a list of all the things you’ll need for a week. Go to the store, buy your stuff and make note of how much you spend. Now all you have to do is budget accordingly.
You can also budget for future events or purchases by setting money aside beforehand so you don’t have to spend an entire paycheck on something like the gift you forgot to buy for your best friend’s wedding.
College is a trying time. You feel like an adult, but at the same time feel like there are so many things your parents forgot to tell you about adulthood. Hopefully, you now have one less adult thing to worry about.