While in high school, spending under the watch of Mom and Dad can seem to be not very empowering to say the least and a lot of teenagers cannot wait to get out from under their parents watchful eyes. Then comes college. While not in the forefront of concerns for numerous incoming freshmen, college actually means a tremendous amount of responsibility and coincidentally a fair amount of firsts, some trivial and others essential, first credit cards, first bills, first checking account, hopefully first budgeting experience and first opportunity to become financially independent. All this points to how critical it is to learn how to budget for college.
Learning how to stretch college dollars can mean less student loans and therefore lighten your post college debt burden, which at present can look to be too far into the future perhaps but probably still a neccessity to deal with at some time. Of course, it is evident that total income can be supplemented by study programs or work, but keep in mind that the hours available for such tasks will be limited. Inasmuch, investing the time and effort to create an effective and suitable college budget can mean the difference between being comfortable and being stressed out due to financial issues.
First, in order of importance is to compile all your sources of income and available cash funds. Include savings, parental contributions, student loans, school employment and finally outside employment, as suitable.
Next is the more complicated section of a college budget, the expenses.
Self evident are the following items :
* Tuition and school fees
* Books and Supplies
* Groceries and meal plans, personal care (shampoo, toothpaste, soap and the like)
* Transportation costs, gas (if you have a car)
* Medical costs if any
* Entertainment (intangible but indispensable nevertheless). Tip : check the internet or local papers for free concerts or shows, maybe go to the library, check out a movie and invite friends over. You may just have a great time and make new friends.
Less in focus and much more difficult to budget for are emergencies and unfortunately, they do occur. This is where a well managed credit card may be the best choice. Granted that tapping out a credit card is never a good course of action, but it can become imperative not to do so while in college.
Pace spending is strongly encouraged when coming into a large amount of money. Receiving such a large amount at the beginning of the term is indeed challenging but managing the practice well can be very rewarding in the end.
There are numerous and very detailed worksheets available on the internet that will make creating a college budget much less of a chore by listing any type of contingencies imaginable.
After completing the budget and you find yourself “in the red”, finding ways to cut expenses is required. Tracking entertainment and ancillary expenses from the beginning will benefit greatly at this juncture.
And beware of hidden costs as such your car. Solution : leave it at home. No more impulse trips, no gas, no insurance or potential repairs, overall a fantastic expense reducer.