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Budgeting for College Students

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Published: Aug 11, 2014

Five Tips to Help College Students Create Budgets

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It’s August, which means it’s time to start gearing up for a new semester. You’ve probably started packing, arranged your schedule, and set your moving date. In all the hustle, don’t forget to create a budget! Whether it’s your first or last year in college, a budget will help make your school year a little less stressful by organizing your expenses and encouraging more efficient money management. Use the following five tips for your college budget and make the most of your money!

    1. Calculate Income Accurately
      Birthday money from a relative is a great surprise, but it’s not income. When calculating your monthly income, only include income that is received on a regular basis. This may come from a part-time job or weekly tutoring sessions. If it’s expected money, then it should be listed on your budget.

    2. Stay on Track with Your Budget
      Stick with your budget. To make the process easier, download a printable budget worksheet, use budgeting software on your computer, or even download a mobile app that will create a budget for you. Pick which method works for you and keep up with it as often as possible.

    3. Be Specific
      The more detailed that your budget is, the easier it will be to track your spending. Knowing exactly where your money is going will help you evaluate what is necessary spending and what can be eliminated to help you save. Create as many categories as you need based on your lifestyle such as groceries, dining out, clothing, school supplies, gas, and entertainment.

    4. Have Some Fun
      While you want to make sure your necessary expenses are taken care of each month, you’ll also want to give yourself some spending flexibility for fun. Whether it is tickets to a football game or an album from iTunes, make room in your budget for it. You work for your money, and you should have some fun too. Stay reasonable, though. Excessive spending for entertainment will do damage to your budget.

    5. Start Saving Now
      Saving money is difficult when you’re in school, but it will benefit you greatly after graduation. When you are looking for your first job after school or moving to a new city, a financial safety net will help you through that transition. Start saving money now for whatever may happen later. Even if you can only save a few dollars, create a habit for yourself where a set amount of money goes into your savings account each week or month. It will grow quicker than you think.

Budgeting is a trial and error process. Use a few different methods until you find what works best with your schedule and your needs. For more information on budgeting and other financial resources, check out our Financial 4.0 website, www.msufcu.org/financial40, to help you successfully and financially navigate your way through the school year.