So you’re an adult now? Guess what that means?! You get to budget – yay! It may sound like a hard thing to do, but budgeting is crucial when you’re in school. The key to success is to plan ahead.
Let’s take a look at some budgeting principles to make sure you know what to expect when it comes to expenses in college.
Have a plan
Plan for success in your personal finances by first creating a plan for your money. Students and adults who manage their budget wisely didn’t stumble upon their knowledge or money on accident; instead, they are intentional about knowing their goals, income, and expenses. Make a strategy related to your financial goals in order have a solid foundation by which you can plan your budget.
Part of your financial planning should be to make it easy to check your bank account and know how much money you have at any given moment. If you haven’t already, set up a checking and savings account at a bank that has branches in the city where your university is located, and you might consider a bank that has online banking as a service. Try to put as much money as possible in your savings account for emergencies and have enough money available in checking for your necessities.
What’s your number
Before you leave for school, sit down with your parents to plan out how much money you’ll need to attend school and have the essentials in college. How much money do you need to survive? Review your list of expected expenses and separate needs from wants. Things like gas, food, and tuition are definitely needs whereas new clothes and weekly dirty chai lattes are wants.
Come up with a working budget and write down all of your expenses and income. Your number needs to show more money coming in than going out or you’ll run out of money and struggle to get through the month. The last thing you want to worry about is money when you’ll have more important things – like grades – to focus on.
Get a part-time job
Consider how you can finance each line item in your budget, then strategize the ideal funding source for those items. Look into summer jobs, gathering with friends to have a garage sale, and of course, getting a part-time job that will work around your school schedule. Part-time jobs on or off campus can be an excellent way to offset some of the costs while you’re in college.
If you do decide to get a job, you’ll need to manage your time wisely. Make sure you’re not working too much that your grades suffer. Check to see if you qualify for a work-study position on campus. There are also other job opportunities at LCU if you don’t qualify. Make a visit to the Career Center to find out what your options are or for general advice about working in college.
Communicate with your parents
If your parents are helping out with spending money and paying for school, talk through their expectations before you begin classes. Open the lines of communication now, and discuss some of the specifics about how they will help. Ask them to be clear about how they will help – maybe through sending money or depositing funds into your bank account. If they set boundaries regarding how much you can spend, respect those guidelines.
Part of responsibly handling money as an adult means no more assuming what money should come your way, but instead being proactive and working hard to cover any expenses yourself. Any generosity from your parents, a job, or your university beyond the predetermined financial contribution should be counted as a blessing (and then should be budgeted wisely!).
If you find yourself running low on funds at any point, adjust your budget accordingly. Search for ways to modify your spending habits and be resourceful in the items that you feel you do need. Buy used books when available, brew your own coffee if you spent too much at Starbucks, and utilize your meal plan more often.
College is an exciting time to grow and learn new, exciting things. It’s also a time when you’re learning to live on your own and become independent from your parents. One of the most “adult” things you’ll do is learn how to manage your own expenses – best of luck as you take the next step!
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