As you know all know I am a senior in college. The year I thought would never come is finally here! One of the things I hear must about from college students is money. Its always “I have no money” or “I wish I had more money for X, Y, and Z.” I am going to let you in on a secret…there are plenty of ways to save money. Welcome to the college student budget!
When it comes to making a college student budget it is a matter of knowing what your priorities are. This is key in order for you to know where you want your money to go. For example, for me, my health, this blog, and my student loans are important to me. I am not a drinker so boozing it on Thirsty Thursday isn’t a priority for me. Maybe it is for you.
Your college student budget should incorporate at least 3 things that are important and I am already going to give you on. You may not be thinking about it now, but your student loans are a major one! The amount of money you can accumulate in four years is terrifying and don’t forget you have to pay it back!
If possible I would have a certain portion of your paycheck go into a savings account that you can use in the future. Another option is transferring money to the account or simply taking so much out every time. You will thank yourself later for it! However, are there ways to reduce the number of loans you take out or the amount you spend daily? Absolutely! Here are a couple of ways you can start saving your money:
Become a Commuter.
This may be doable for students who live close to home. I myself used to live on campus, but due to many reasons, I decided to come home. It was the best decision I made as I no longer have to pay for room and board or a meal plan (I will get into that later). However, I do drive two-hours per day. Overall the amount I spend on gas will be significantly less than taking out another loan.
Walk, Ride a Bike, or Take a Bus to Campus.
This will cut the cost of having to bring your car to campus. More often times than not they will charge a fee to park your car on campus. It can be anywhere from $100 to $300 per academic year. You will also save by not having to spend money on gas, however, you would have to rely on the bus schedule. Typically a bus pass is provided by the college/university, but I would recommend reaching out to your own campus.
Get a Smaller Meal Plan or No Meal Plan.
When you get your bill, the campus always gives you the meal plan with the most swipes or whatever it is for your campus. It is always the most expensive option. However, you can adjust your bill to have fewer swipes. As a commuter, you can get the cheapest one or no meal plan at all. I would recommend removing it and just bringing food from home. Honestly, it will taste better and be better for you. For those living on campus dorm room building and/or apartment have community kitchens that can be utilized as well.
Include Healthy Food Items in Your Room.
This will reduce the number of times that you spend money at the vending machines and/or cafes across campus. Also, you will be doing your health a favor by consuming more nutrient-dense foods. An apple and peanut butter will be more satisfying than a Poptart from the vending machine. Another thing to look into is campuses usually have deals with local grocery stores as well!
Consume Less Alcohol (and Party Less Too).
As we all know alcohol can be expensive. Especially if you are buying alcohol multiple times per week. Not only isn’t it good for your wallet, but also for your liver. By reducing your partying to say once per week can save you tons of money. Also, refer back to the tip above by having food in your dorm will reduce you ordering that pizza at midnight. As for your health, your liver will thank you, get better sleep, and just feel better overall.
I know not all of you will be able to implement all of these tips. However, just incorporating one can save you so much money! The app Mint is a great option as you can monitor your spending from your phone. I do want to say these four years do go by fast. You can still enjoy time with friends, try new restaurants, go to events, and more even with a budget. I do hope this helps you especially if this is your first year!