Even if you had a job before college and needed to manage your money to some extent, it’s unlikely that anything has prepared you for budgeting as a student. It’s crucial that you do have a budget because without one, you may overspend and struggle to make ends meet or graduate with a much larger debt than necessary. Besides, learning how to budget now will help you throughout your life.
Here are a few tips to consider.
1. Download a Budgeting App
Long gone are the days when you needed to use a spreadsheet to budget. There are now a number of apps to choose from, many of which are free. An app will take all the hard work out of budgeting and give you extra support to manage your money wisely.
2. Have Emergency Funds
It’s essential to include in your budget a certain amount you will only touch in the case of an emergency. This should be around 10 percent of your monthly budget. You never know when you may face an emergency — and the last thing you want is to be scrambling to find cash.
3. Never Use a Credit Card for Fun
An easy way to ensure that you stay within your budget for fun activities is to withdraw the amount you’ve allocated in your budget and only use that cash. Running out of cash before the end of the month will help you realize that you need to be more selective with your spending in the future.
4. Find Free Events
Limit how much you spend by finding free ways to have fun. Universities hold free events on campus all the time. These are also great for meeting new people and exploring new interests.
5. Eliminate Your Credit Card Balance
As credit cards have some of the highest interest rates, it should be a priority to get your balance to zero and keep it there. If you already have some debt, pay as much as you possibly can each month, perhaps adjusting your budget to pay two or three times what you’re currently paying. Going forward, only charge to your credit card what you can afford to pay off in full when the bill comes.
6. Pay Off Student Loans as Soon as Possible
It’s best to start paying off your student loans while you’re still in college. Even small monthly payments can make a big difference to how much you’ll owe when you graduate.
7. Invest the Rest
If you have any money left at the end of the month, instead of giving yourself extra to spend next month, invest it. Use a savings account or consider buying stocks and bonds. Investing apps are great for this. For instance, a robo-advisor app can build and manage your portfolio, meaning there’s no need for you to make potentially risky decisions.
8. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Always ask stores if they offer student discounts and patronize those that do. You may be surprised just how many businesses (both online and offline) have special prices for students.
9. Search for Coupons
Before making any non-urgent purchases, see if you can find a coupon. Regularly gaining discounts in this way will add up to significant savings.
10. Create a Weekly Menu
Before you head to the grocery store, decide what meals you’ll eat in the upcoming week. This will help you purchase just the ingredients you need and prevent picking up products that you end up throwing out. It will also prevent you from giving in to temptations and buying things that look appealing but that weren’t on your shopping list.
You’ll have more to spare in your budget if you don’t live in an expensive dorm room with a meal plan but instead find a student rental. Oshawa students can turn to Foundry 1805. You’ll receive a room in a fully-furnished suite, all utilities included. Apply now while units are still available.