If you’ve recently joined the ranks of the over 20 million college students in America, then you’ve probably already gotten a dose of what real life is all about. Unlike in the Hallmark movies and some bestselling young adult books, college life is a serious thing and it isn’t always easy.
You’re on your own for the very first time, struggling to pay your own bills, study and strike that perfect campus-life balance that you read about in books and see in the feel-good movies. Not to worry though, we have a few of the critical budgeting tips you should know and follow as a new college student.
1. Actually Create a Budget
You can’t stay within your budget while you’re in college if you never create one to begin with. Sit down and set up a budget on paper for food, rent and utilities if you live off campus, and living expenses for the month, before you set aside money for parties and eating out. These things are important as well, but your bills and food need to come first.
2. Use an App
As a college student, you have a ton of things happening on a daily basis, and every day seems to be different. Without structure, it’s easy to get off budget and before you know it, you have no money left and still have three weeks left in the month. There are apps for everything today, and there’s an app for budgeting as well.
Do your research and find the best budgeting app for you, download it to your phone, and use it to create and stick to the budget you set.
3. Start on Your Career
One way to make sure you have enough money to make it through the month is to get a headstart on your career. Of course, not every career can be started without having that degree in hand, in some you can be making extra money while you study. For example, if you’re interested in real estate or wholesaling houses, then why not get in touch with a local agency to see if they can get you started? It’s the perfect way to make extra cash while you’re studying for a career.
4. Start to Build Your Credit
Some college students still don’t realize that you can’t get very far in life without good credit. That’s why it’s super important to start building your credit when you’re still in college. One of the best ways to do that is by applying for one of the many starter loans available from a reputable lender and then paying your payments on time.
The one thing you don’t want to do is get on the credit card merry-go-round sooner than you have to, as credit cards can easily ruin your credit before you ever get started in your career and real life.
5. Set Aside Cash for Fun
While you’re creating your budget for the month, set aside an amount that you’re allowed to spend for dining out and social events, such as movies and things with your friends. Go to the bank and draw that amount of money out of your account. Do not go back to the bank in that month to draw out more money for fun, and don’t use your debit card for it. Commit yourself to only using that amount of money for fun events, and when it runs out, you’re just done until the next month rolls around.
These are just a few must-have budgeting tips for college students. Remember, college isn’t just about getting good grades and studying for a successful career. It’s about learning how to survive in the real world, and budgeting is a big part of that.