How to Manage Your Expenses as a College Student – The Ultimate Guide!

How to Manage Your Expenses as a College Student – The Ultimate Guide!
  • Opening Intro -

    There is no way to bypass the cost and expenses but with a few smart decisions and a little budgeting, you may have some life left in your when it’s all over and time to graduate!


College is one of the most big-budget experiences of your life. College is basically like a sadistic vacuum machine bent on sucking the life out of you and your bank account!

There is no way to bypass the cost and expenses but with a few smart decisions and a little budgeting, you may have some life left in your when it’s all over and time to graduate!

Here are five college expenses with possible coping mechanisms for your finances that you may need to survive!

Number one: Education

Problem: Education in general is expensive, but as a college student this will be your number one expense. Tuition fees can range easily from $10,000 to $40,000 per annum, no matter what school you go to.

Possible Solutions:

  • Do your research well. The courses you want to study are probably offered at any university, that may be slightly cheaper than your dream university which will suck every last penny out of your bank account!

    In the end, the college you choose to go to makes a huge difference. Consider more affordable options such as community college instead of the prestigious ones!

  • Try to get done with basic college courses in high school – this may not be applicable to every high school, so check in with your guidance counselor. However, getting beginner level courses such as calculus for example in high school saves you from taking these courses in college. Just make sure the courses you pick have transferable credits, and you’re good to go!
  • Work really hard for a scholarship! Most scholarships require a glowing academic record, which, with the right amount of effort and consistency, can be achieved in high school. This is only possible if you realize before it’s too late how important getting into a college of your choice is for you!
  • Student loans. While federal loans are more forgiving, and offer a great deal of relaxation, private loans have the potential to become your worst nightmare! Don’t get into the hassle of loans if you can avoid it.

Number two: Living cost

Problem: Living costs primarily include rent, food and toiletries. Dorm rooms sometimes charge more than an off-campus apartment will. College meal plans, cafeteria and dining out can take a huge toll on your budget. Also, don’t underestimate the cost of clothing, laundry, groceries, and personal things – these can easily add up to $1500 to $2000 a month!

Possible solutions:

If it is possible to live at home and attend college, you don’t have to move out! While the excitement of living on your own, and the overall fun of living with your friends in the thick of opportunities and college-life, is indeed tempting, avoid it if it makes going bankrupt seem inevitable.

  • Share the essential appliances with friends! There is no need to be possessive and selfish, especially in college; things like dishes, coffee machines, and microwaves can be shared easily.
  • Prefer to cook your own meals. This will cost almost half of what college meal plans will cost, and gives you more control over what you eat!
  • Buy groceries and bathroom essentials in stock. Bulk up on everyday things to save onto two things you’ll always be short on in college: money AND time!

Number three: Textbooks and Stationery

Problem: Every course will have its own reading material and textbooks, and the library can help only to an extent. You will eventually have to buy a few textbooks that are essential for your studies, and in addition to that you’ll need stationery and notebooks too!

Possible solutions:

  • Buy used textbooks. You just need the work so don’t care about how worn out it is.
  • Borrow books from seniors: if you’re going to be social in college, you might as well take advantage of your senior friends. Most of them won’t mind as they can probably relate to the financial crisis situation in college.
  • Buy books for cheaper on Amazon , instead of the fancy bookstore at the mall.
  • Buy a set of basic notebooks and a box of pens to last through out the semester. You can do without the “extra fine” quality paper and every color highlighter!

Number four: Transportation

Problem: While living on campus can reduce the cost of travelling every day, you still have to afford trips back home on breaks and holidays.

Possible solutions:

  • Keep money aside every month for trips back home. A semester is generally three to four months; saving up slowly is the way to go!
  • Resist the urge to take small trips on short breaks. While all of your friends might think it’s a good idea to take a much-needed break from the hectic college routine, you might want to consider otherwise. You can use that time to study or work overtime!
  • Prefer to walk if it is possible. Seriously. It is good exercise, and after a while will not take too long either!

Number five: Lifestyle

Problem: You enter college from the luxury of staying at your parent’s house where they pay for everything. College life in that case gives you a large dose of the real world.
Possible solutions:

  • Practice minimalism. It will definitely make your life easy. You do not need three suitcases full of clothes or twenty pairs of shoes. Limiting the shopping sprees is a good idea! Follow this popular blog to learn more about being a minimalist!
  • Shop at thrift stores! They provide cheap and comfortable options and that’s all you need in college. The fashionista in you can wait till after you’ve graduated and have a lucrative job.
other valuable readings:


Basically, you already know that going to college will put a great deal of financial stress on you for the next four to five years of your life. You cannot avoid it, but you can manage your way around the expenses.

In the end, all you need is a great deal of self-control, budgeting skills, and to sort out your priorities.

The company you keep makes a difference too. Being surrounded by friends who are too extravagant and live in regret and debt can be contagious! Share the tips and tricks talked about here with all of your friends, and/or siblings, so they can have more control over their finances too! After all, you and your friends are all college students learning and growing together!

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Categories: College Budgeting