Budgeting in College

Hey Y’all!

So classes have started, and with that comes a lot of planning and budgeting! Really though, college is super expensive {my boyfriend spent $1000 on textbooks this week and I cried for him}. I wanted to provide you all with an EASY guide on how I budget for the semester, and how my budget has helped me stay afloat in college and not take out student loans. If you have not already, I advise you read my post on what you can do to avoid student debt, i.e. work/scholarships/fasfa/etc. before reading this post because I am pulling from that information. Please keep in mind for the budget below; I have already taken into consideration what type of housing fees I could afford. I understand this can vary from person to person, and this decision should be made before you decide to sit down and make a budget like the one I am about to show you. Another thing you will notice is that I always OVER estimate, it is better to plan for worst case scenario, so you do not find yourself in a situation you can not handle.

First || College Expenses & Living Expenses

The first thing I do before budgeting is I look at all my expenses. I mean real expenses, like what you NEED.

These are typically the things I ALWAYS take into account:

College Expenses --> Tuition, Fees, Textbooks,

-Tuition: Based on fee bill. If I did not receive it yet, I look at the previous year for reference and estimate a little bit higher {like $500}

-Fees: Same as above, but fees typically stay the same.

-Textbooks: The average student spends about $1500 {lol} on textbooks a year. You may not buy any of your textbooks, but as stated earlier, I over estimate.

-Sorority Dues: Ask your chapter for an expense breakdown. {overestimate for big/lil, formal, etc}

Living Expenses --> Housing Fees, Electricity Bills, Food, Gas,

-Housing: I budget my rent/housing fees for the WHOLE semester, not by month. I do this because it eliminates any risk of me over spending monthly. I live in the sorority house so I know my fees upfront, however when I did rent I did my rent x 6 months.

-Electricity/Water/Internet/Cable Bills: Again, I personally live in a sorority house, but when I rented I did the highest amount I ever paid once I split the bill with my roommates x 6 months.

-Food: Everyone is different, however I budgeted $50 a week. Therefore, I did $50 x 4 weeks x 6 months.

-Gas: I could typically fill up my sentra every two weeks on $25 {I walk everywhere}, so $25 x 2 Fill Ups a Month x 6 Months.

Now add all those beautiful expenses together!

Second || Income, Income, Income

Now it’s time to evaluate your income. I would add all my scholarships + grants + savings AKA what I know I have financially for the semester {excluding my job, we will get to that}

Third || Where do you fall short?

Its really easy, Income – Expenses, and pray you get a positive number {lol}. Then I divide what I have left over for the course of 6 months. This will be my spending money over the course of my semester. I personally try to work about 15-20 hours a week though, because it is always best to have extra and save when just in case something comes up {flat tire, ticket, etc}

Fourth || Not really, just an excel sheet to make your life easy

Here is a screenshot of what my excel sheet typically looks like when I am budgeting.

 

Fifth || Along the Way

Keep a digital copy of your fee bill, ALL billing statement(s), back to school supply receipts: This will give you a better idea the following semester of what and where you should budget. You will be able to refer and average {I always go a little higher than my average amount} each individual cost.

Account for each debit card/credit card statement: I always go through my monthly statements to see where I spend the most money. For example, I highlight all food, entertainment, and want based expenses individually to see where my money is going.

Bonus || $1000 Emergency Fund

My next post will cover what financial advisors/apps I swear by, but just to touch on it lightly, it is extremely important to build an $1000 Emergency fund at the very least if you are not a huge saver.

I know my budget is kind of common sense, but I know a lot of people my age have trouble budgeting. I hope this is good starting point for some of you, and it helps you as much as it helps me!

Xoxo, Whit