Many students struggle to manage their student finances effectively. A general guideline suggests borrowing only what will be covered by your projected income after graduation.
Select a school within your budget – even if this means forgoing one that offers your dream education – is also crucial to finding success.
Organize Your Expenses
Many college students would love to have enough money for the things they want and need without being forced to work too much, impeding their studies. Prioritizing your expenses helps you stick to your budget and avoid falling into debt or having to drop out altogether.
Make a list of your monthly expenses, such as textbooks, supplies, room and board fees, food, transportation costs and any additional miscellaneous expenses like entertainment and personal care expenses. Compare this figure with your income; if expenses outstrip income then adjustments need to be made and may include student loans or lifestyle changes to make this work. Eventually create and stick to a budget!
Order Your Expenses by Importance
As you prioritize expenses, health and arrange them by priority, remember to consider the bigger picture. Your student loan payments might not be at the top of your priority list but are an integral component of financial life and shouldn’t be disregarded.
Consider creating a miscellaneous category to account for expenses like dining out or entertainment that can quickly add up. Tracking these variable expenses is crucial to keeping within your budget, and The Hub offers Spend Analysis which makes this easy while also helping create savings goals for them.
Create a Budget
Once you have listed all of your expenses, determine how much money is available each month – this figure represents your net income – it includes take-home pay minus taxes and deductions such as insurance premiums or flexible spending account contributions.
Document your fixed and variable expenses using a budgeting app or software program, checkbook register or pen and paper. Don’t forget any recurring bills such as student loan or vehicle payments that might need to be included, like quarterly, semiannually or annually billing cycles.
To get an accurate picture of your monthly discretionary spending, take an average over the past three months. Your spending should ideally be less than or equal to your net income; if this is not the case for you, consider adding a savings category into your budget plan.
Save Money for Unexpected Expenses
Saves are key to helping avoid debt, so incorporating this strategy into your budget should be top priority. A spreadsheet or expense tracking app are great tools for doing this.
Tuition and books cannot always be avoided, but students can reduce costs through foundational courses at community college or applying for scholarships. Furthermore, taking on additional jobs, work-study programs or freelance projects to augment income is another option available to them.
Students typically earn “lumpy income”, meaning their monthly earnings vary dramatically month to month. Therefore, it is crucial that college students plan accordingly and save any refund checks or extra income they receive to make sure any gaps in budgeting can be filled or to build up an emergency fund.
Save for Future Expenses
College students often must save for future expenses like wedding gifts, a car purchase, vacation plans or a night out – yet these expenses can still be met if planning ahead and making wise money choices are implemented.
Use of money-saving apps or budgeting programs can help keep you on the path towards achieving your financial goals. Popular options include Microsoft Excel and free budgeting apps available online. Furthermore, many financial institutions provide budgeting tools as part of their account services.
If you find that you receive large tax refunds annually, consider increasing your withholding so more of your paycheck goes to you instead of going directly back to the government as this will allow you to keep more of what would otherwise go as a refund. This way you will save some of this money instead of giving it away as refunds.