How to Budget in College

Have you ever tried to make a monthly budget? It can be very important to achieving your short term and long term goals, especially if they are financial goals such as: getting through college without any debt, saving up money to buy a bicycle, or saving enough money to afford a suit for your upcoming interviews. Budgeting will help you see your total income each month and also will allow you to discover where each of your dollars are going each month as well. It can be a very powerful tool succeed in your upcoming future.

budget in college

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Your Income

Even though you are in college, you should still have an income. I believe that every college student should at least have a part time job during the school semesters and then a full time job in the summers when class is not in session. Whether your income is consistent or not, make an income goal each month and write that down on your master piece of paper (or insert it into a website like Mint.com).

Your Expenses

Estimating your income is actually pretty simple when compared to estimating your expenses. We are all creatures of spontaneity and have absolutely no idea what we might buy in the month to come. We might have an urge to buy pizza one night, or maybe a designer handbag that’s on sale another night. However, by setting a budget you are empowering yourself to avoid certain expenses that do not align with your long term goal.

First, write down your expenses that are certain – like tuition every four months, books, food, rent, utilities, car insurance, gasoline, and clothing. For items that do not happen monthly (like the tuition bill), divide the expenses into each month of the year. After writing out your expenses, how do your bills compare to your current income? If they do not align, then you either need to increase your income or reduce your expenses.

Making the Budgets Work

Many people refuse to use a budget. Do you know why? Because they’re hard and people often give up on them before they start having an impact on their lives. If, however, you can stick with a budget long enough, you will realize the tremendous impact that it will have on you.

More than likely, your college expenses will exceed your income and you might think to yourself, “This is stupid. There’s no way I can survive on my income throughout college. I should just take out student loans and be done with this whole budget thing. It just doesn’t work.” This is the coward’s way out.

If you truly want to be a success, you should instead ask yourself, “I wonder how I could increase my income to cover all of these expenses?” This question allows your mind to create and grow new ideas about earning money. Maybe you could wash some cars on Saturday or get another job washing boats by the lake. Use this budget exercise to visually see where your money is going, trim back your expenses, and find ways to increase your income.

Are you ready to get that budget started?


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