7 Tips on How to Set up a Budget in College

7 Tips on How to Set up a Budget in College
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    Budgeting and college don’t sound like 2 words that work especially well together.

    When you say college, you think about fun times, academics, new experiences and new friends.

    You rarely think about money, let alone a budget.


Sadly, this kind of thinking can quickly lead you to debt, something you most definitely want to steer away from. Chances are your student loans will provide a significant burden already – no need to add to this burden by not being responsible from a financial perspective. Here are our top 7 tips on how to manage a budget during your college years.

1. Budget the fun in

A budget doesn’t have to be boring. Remember to set a specific category in your budget for entertainment activities, such as going out, buying games or upgrading your console every once in a while.

Also, try to pay yourself first as soon as you get a hold of some money – you’ll be motivated to stick to your budget after such a “reward”, and it’s also a great way to not spend money. Because you won’t have any leftover.

2. Be realistic with yourself

Chances are this is the first time in your life you have to set up and take care of a budget for you. When estimating the income you have, aim for the absolute minimum, and take the exact contrary approach when estimating expenditures. Budget for the worst-case scenario each month so that you have some financial freedom when things aren’t so gloomy.

3. Set up a “miscellaneous” category

Things break down. You might require urgent medical intervention or quickly need a $200 textbook to pass an exam. There will always be unexpected costs, probably every month. Make this category around 10% of your overall budget, and you should be fine.

4. Organize your bills and receipts

Do this so you can later keep a good track of them and study how much you’ve spent and where you’ve spent it. This is also good if you want to return damaged objects or have to prove that you actually paid a bill – mistakes do happen. Be prepared!

Get the tools you need to budget each academic year in college.

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5. Review your budget and track your spending

After drafting the first version of your budget, try to stick with it for 3 months by tracking every dollar you spend. After that, carefully review your budget. Where do you find the need for more money? Where haven’t you been realistic with costs? Where can you cut from with minimum effort? All good questions you will have to answer to tailor the budget to your needs.

6. Try to pay in cash as often as possible

You have a better feeling of what you’re spending if you don’t use a credit card. You’ll quickly realize how fast cash flies from your pocket.

7. Attempt to save

If you can manage to save some money during college, you’ll certainly have no problem doing this after you graduate or get a job. Even if you only start by saving $10 a month, try to build this habit as early as possible.

Share this article with your friends to find out more budgeting tips. Each person has their own unique way to set up and stick to a budget, so you might find different models that suit you better. Remember to keep it about you and only take the tips that make sense, don’t just blindly copy them. After you have a good grasp of what you need to do, start planning and stick to it!


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