Budgeting to Live While at College
Apart from tuition and books, living away from home during college can be expensive. Students will want to develop a budget and stick to it. College life can still be fun if you are frugal and smart with your money.
Students may find that their biggest expense while going to school is actually food costs more than anything. First year college students that live on campus are generally required to purchase a meal plan. If you are forced to pay for it, then students should use it. Why pay for food when you it is already paid for? The next best thing a student can do is to get a small refrigerator and buy your own food. If you eat a lot of snack foods, buy them in bulk versus the convenience store or vending machine. You will pay a lot more for food at those stores. For students that enjoy coffee and bottled water, they can also buy that in bulk. Buying a $3 cup of coffee and a $1 bottle of water can be very expensive on a daily basis. Learn to cook simple meals on your hot plate in your dorm room. If you can boil water, then you can cook a lot of simple meals. Plan to go to the grocery store once a week and stick to your list. Don’t waste money on extras that you don’t really need.
College life is not cheap and many parents are surprised at how expensive it is for students to live on their own – even in a dorm room. Many students will have to get a part time job while they are attending school to pay for the necessities and food that they need on a daily basis. This will make a dramatic difference in the cost of living while at college. Students will need to learn to change their ways when they are living at home. Students may not be able to afford the same brand names that they used when they lived at home.
Students that are working will need to figure out what they make on a weekly basis. They will need to assess their bills and what they need to make sure that they are paid. If students rent a house or an apartment, then they will have to assess the extra expenses they will incur. They will have to pay for utilities, their Internet, cable, cell phone, gas, insurance, car payment and any other expenses that they may have. They will then need to see how much money they can afford to spend on entertainment or shopping later. The student’s first priority should be to have their bills paid before they even think about spending money on entertainment and other activities. Many students do not realize how many bills they have until they are paying them all on their own.
Going out and having fun is a part of college life and students will need social interaction. Students should get together with their friends and decide how they can all save money together. Students that enjoy eating out should invite friends over for pot-luck dinners and share in the expense of the meals. A good idea for students is to save half of their money and the other half they can use for entertainment purposes.
Having a back-up plan while you are in college is an absolute must. Many students will apply for student loans and pay for their tuition and then spend the rest of the money frivolously. This is not a good idea, as unexpected events occur such as your car breaking down or your computer crashing. These are events that you will want to be sure that you have money in savings to pay for these events.
Budgeting while in college will take a plan and dedication and students will have to be diligent about their finances. Students that are capable of saving money wisely will be successful while they are in college.
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