Getting Started: Budget Tips for College Students
We understand the struggle. College is the first time many young adults are budgeting money on their own. You may feel overwhelmed about how you’ll afford to do all the fun things the “college life” offers without draining your bank account.
Between a full class schedule, homework, and giving yourself time to socialize, taking on a part-time job can seem next to impossible. Don’t worry; we’re here to offer you some simple budget tips for college students. Class is in session, so let’s get started!
Lesson 1: Establish Your Monthly Income
As we said above, we understand it’s challenging to work a job during school with a full course load. However, establishing a small and consistent monthly income can really help you stretch that instant noodle budget. Working just 10-12 hours a week can help you with your monthly expenses, and maybe even give some wiggle room for extra spending money.
We recommend talking to the staff on your college campus to help connect you with low-commitment jobs, such as working in the library, mail room, tutoring, etc. Another great tip is to work as much as possible during the summer to help budget for a back-to-school safety net.
Lesson 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Bills
Regarding budget tips for college students, it’s essential to know that you can’t budget appropriately without clearly understanding your recurring expenses. While it’s not as fun as shopping for dorm room decor, spend a few minutes sitting down and calculating everything you’ll be financially responsible for during the school year. Everything adds up, from your phone bill to toiletries and gas money, and will inform how much you need to make each month and how much you can allot for extra expenses, like your favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Lesson 3: Don’t Forget the Big Expenses
We can’t discuss college budgeting without mentioning those hefty semester bills. Things like books for classes and tuition are pricey. If those expenses are not entirely covered by a scholarship, your parents, or a student loan, those costs should be factored into your budget.
Lesson 4: Skip the Credit Cards + Stick with “Real Money”
Companies in college will likely mail you credit cards as an incentive to sign up, but we advise you to refrain from these if you can help it. As most college students do, you’ll likely graduate with a student loan to pay off. So the last thing you need to worry about is credit card debt. A bad credit score can follow you for a while, so avoid spending money you can’t easily repay.
Lesson 5: Don’t “Set It and Forget It” – Always Check Your Account
When it comes to your bank account, we don’t want you crossing your fingers that your card gets approved at the drive-thru. Make a point to check your account regularly to track your spending and saving habits.
Get Back-to-School Ready with White River Credit Union
At WRCU we offer young students (ages 13-17) savings accounts to help them manage their own money and save for important purchases (like college!). With an online banking functionality, no minimum savings amounts, and no service charge fees, our student account is a great way to get your financial future on the right track.
Already in college? No problem. Our classic accounts may be a better fit for you – complete with a debit card and access to our online banking tools.