If you’re going away to college and will be on your own, the one thing you’ll have is freedom. For most, however, money is a scarce resource. You can do better financially if you plan things right. The first step is to have a budget, so you know what you’ll need for the monthly bills, what you can spend, and what you can save. These tips will help you learn more about how to do this, rather than guess your way through college.
Budgeting can be tough if you’ve never done it before. Estimate how much cash will be coming in each month and what you will likely spend. Stick to realistic numbers and it will be easier to stay within your budget. Think about your needs and wants as well; the things you need, such as groceries, should come first. Your wants can be addressed if you have money left over.
It is a good strategy to guess low in regards to income. You may find your actual income is higher than your estimate, but at least you won’t fall short. By contrast, estimate your expenses to be higher than they might be. You’re likely to have more flexibility, and funds, should something unexpected come up.
Cover All Your Bases
Even if you’re not earning a fortune, set up a savings account for anything left over. You might eventually have enough saved for a vacation or to pay your student loans. Emergency expenses should also be considered. Sticking to a budget is not necessarily easy, but having one makes it easier to see what you are overspending on, so you can get closer to your goals.
Pay Cash When Possible
The more you pay with cash, rather than credit cards or checks, the more aware you are of spending. Set aside a certain amount to spend each day, week, or month. Money management in college will carry forward to the rest of your life, so don’t be afraid to review your budget if isn’t perfect. You can always recalculate your finances based on past overspending and what you can do differently to meet your goals.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
If you are off to the University of Denver, you’re bound to make mistakes. From time to time, you might overspend. You’ll get back on track if you realize it in time. Managing money is a learning process and, after all, you are going to college to learn. If you start thinking seriously about your finances, these money tips will pay off in the long run. Think of them as stepping stones to creating a financial plan when you graduate and land your dream job.