Budgeting is basically planning on how to spend your money. Budgeting helps you to always have a hold of your spending at all times. Most people see budgeting as one of those activities reserved for huge business people or those with families. However, budgeting is as important to those as it is to college and university students.
A budget helps an individual (in this case a college student) put their cash into the best use. It also prevents waste in activities that would otherwise wait or be avoided at all.
With a budget that you adhere to, it would be extremely hard to find yourself in situations where you do not have any cash flow. Budgeting is quite easy especially for a college student and here are ten tips that can help :
1. Stick to your budget
This requires the creation of a budget in the first place; a budget being a financial plan. There are various ways you can approach the creation of a budget. In today’s world, it gets as simple as running budgeting applications on smartphones.
You can also go traditional and write your budget manually by putting pen on paper. You can also use spreadsheet applications to create a budget. Whatever method you use to create your budget, please stick to it.
Do not be tempted to overspend because you know of an opportunity in the future to make that money back. Stick to the budget to the letter. It might be hard, annoying and involving lots of sacrifice but the benefits are so huge you easily forget those small pains
2. Plan ahead
The easiest way to plan ahead is by including money for unexpected expenses mostly out of your savings. Life is as unpredictable as it can be and the least we can do is be prepared.
In college, life might just make an unexpected turn at any moment. Someone might make away with your computer; your course of study may necessitate a mandatory trip for research among other emergencies
3. Find a job
Enough cannot be said about the importance of finding a job for that extra income. Opportunities are endless. You can work part-time on the internet, turn your passion into a job or get employed on an already running business on campus.
The extra you earn in this kinds of setups cannot be overlooked. In some cases, the income is not as much but even that is better than none.
4. Keep track of your spending
Always keep track of how you use your money. Guided by your budget, you should always be aware of how much you are expected to spend at a given time. It would not make any sense should you not have a record of your spending.
Spending records are the baseline for evaluation of how well you are following your budget. Keep your receipts and bills and always come back to them whenever you need to.
5. Create a budget that works for you
You know yourself better than anyone else. You are expected to be aware of your financial position as a college student as well when you approach the creation of a budget.
Do not copy your colleagues budget because they are a student like you. Create your bespoke version. Factor in your spending habits as well as your incomes.
Be realistic about the incomes you expect. Do not factor in incomes that you are not sure of. Never underestimate your expected spending numbers as this can severally curtail the effectiveness of your budget.
6. Cut costs
With cutting costs, economists introduce the terms needs and wants where needs are the things you cannot do without e.g. food whereas wants are the things you feel like you need but you can do without e.g. a gaming console.
College students are guilty of spending as much on wants as needs but with a budget and the necessary self-discipline, you should find this a controllable habit. Remember, a budget exists to guide you but self-discipline is a great pillar to financial awareness
7. Plan for huge purchases
Once in a while, a student needs a huge purchase that may dent their wallet; say a PC. These purchases in most cases are unavoidable but we can always plan ahead for them. Save up for such over time. If you are upgrading, sell your old appliance and top up the cash for a new one rather than keeping both
8. Look for deals
Back to school, Christmas and Black Friday deals are just but a few deals out there offered by stores. Use these deals to your advantage.
Every saved coin is very important. You would rather wait for a deal to pop up rather than spend immediately whereas a chance to save will present itself.
Evaluate the purchase time because some purchases cannot be postponed. Deals are among the best shots at saving your money especially if you are a campus student and money is not one of those things you have in plenty.
9. Take advantage of the free things
With ”free things”, I mean campus provided. Campuses provide a lot from free internet to cheap accommodation.
Why spend more for the services you can have for free or at a subsidized fee on campus? Those types of extra costs are what a college student should avoid in an aim to put money back to the pocket.
10. Watch what and where to eat
Food is a need and very basic to our survival as human beings. However, this does not give us a ticket to overspend on the commodity. Spend wisely on food as it can be very tempting to overspend on food.
As a college student, you might want to explore preparing your own meals as opposed to buying them and if you have to purchase, do so at the most cost effective eatery out there.
This does not mean that you should starve while trying to economize. The above tips should help any college student out there struggling with financial issues.
However, there is a lot more to spending and budgeting. But with self-discipline and proper decision making, you and your money will always be in check
Why is budgeting important for a college student?
Some may ask where a college student might find the kind of money that needs a budget. But believe it or not, most students handle a lot of money often in small quantities.
But it might be the lack of a budget that blinds them into thinking that they do not handle as much money. In addition, budgeting was never meant to be constrained only to large amounts of money.
College comes with a lot of money making opportunities but that is not on our agenda of discussion today.
As a side note though, I would highly encourage students to indulge in these kinds of opportunities to make that extra cash.
Extra cash means a little less stress for your parents and a little more financial freedom for you. And again, without a proper budget, the extra cash you make might just go to waste and we do not want that.