3 Tips on Budgeting For Your College Expenses
Alright, so to begin, I must say this: having a student loan does not mean that you have free money.
For some reason, college students tend to hold to the idea that having a loan or line of credit to pay for their college expenses means that they can spend whatever they want on whatever they want. I know that it may seem to be an obvious thing to say, but…don’t do that. I mean, not to sound all “preachy” here, but college loans are meant to pay for your tuition, books, and perhaps if you’re lucky, a portion of your living expenses. These loans are meant to cover the bare minimum, not pay for the overly extravagant. No matter how tempting it may be, do not use this money as a means to pay off your bar tab, late-night delivery of pizza, or “back to school” clothes. Seriously, it’s just not wise; yet I see it happen every day.
So, how can you budget your money while you’re in college?
1. The first thing that you need to do is figure out how much money you have for the school year.
Do you have a job? How much money do you expect to make before you leave for college? Are your parents able/willing to help you with the cost of your education? How much are they planning on putting towards the cost? Have you received any scholarships or loans?
Write down all of the money that you are certain that you will be receiving before heading off to college. It will give you a clearer idea of exactly how much money you will have, and if more money comes in than what you budgeted for, you will have a little more breathing room.
2. The second thing that you should do is add up every penny that you will be receiving and divide it by the number of months that you will be in school.
This point may seem fairly obvious, but it can be very tempting for a college student to spend more money once they’ve added up the entire amount that they are expecting to receive. Let’s face it; it looks like a TON of money when it’s all added together. The students think that there’s just no way that they can spend it ALL before the year is through. Unfortunately, that mentality is a slippery slope as they will most certainly spend every dime before the year is through. If you divide up the money over the course of your academic year, you will see the exact monthly budget that you must abide by.
3. The third thing to think about is how to curb your excessive spending while in college.
Once again, a college student sees the amount of money that he or she may spend in a month and doesn’t think that they’ll spend even close to that amount in a mere month. After all, if they’ve never lived away from home, they’ve never had to live on a budget, pay rent, nor even think of the cost of food. If you add up the amount of money that eating out or ordering in will cost you, it is easy to see why it’s a huge drain on your finances. Even getting a $1.50 coffee each day will cost you $45 at the end of the month, and if you’re in school for 10 months, it will add up to $450! Try making coffee and lunches at home and taking it with you to class.
I suppose the most important thing for [potential] college students to take away from all of this is the fact that they will not be able to “live the life” during their academic years, and then just pay off the debts that they owe once they’ve graduated and work in a high-rise corner office, wearing European suits and silk ties. It just doesn’t happen that quickly, folks. You need to budget well throughout your academic career in order to be prepared to pay off your debts upon graduation. You cannot expect to be making tons of money the moment you graduate; it takes time to work up to the corner office. You will need to be able to live off the salary that is a little more realistic to a recent college grad. So, make sure you plan for it.
Although it may be a bit tough to be so strict with your budget whilst in college, just know that upon graduation, you will be thankful that you were!
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Tags: budget, College, debt, Education, graduation, money, school, student debt, Student Loan, University