20 Practical Budgeting Tips for College Students

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Use these practical budgeting tips for college students to organize and keep on top of your finances while allowing you to still enjoy yourself and have fun.

Money-Saving Budgeting Tips

1. Track and jot down your income

The first thing to do to prepare a budget is to track and note down your income. You can use a journal or take notes on your phone. You can also use an app that lets you jot down your income.

Once you know how much you earn, you can easily decide how much to spend or save. 

2. List all expenses

We all have a fixed set of expenses that occur every month. Identify where you spend regularly and list them in detail.

This gives you an idea of where to cut expenses, how much to save, or whether to increase your income.

3. Identify your fixed versus variable expenses

Some of our expenses are fixed, such as the monthly rent or the phone bill. Some of the expenses are variable, such as the cost of your meals, your transport cost, or how much you spend on entertainment.

Identify and separate the expenses to save money where you can. While you cannot reduce your fixed expense, you can be cautious and save on some of your variable expenses.

4. Use an app for tracking

If keeping a journal and manually jotting down your revenue and expenses seems like a hassle, you can always download finance apps.

Mint, Spendee, and Personal Capital are apps that are made to make personal finance tracking easier.

You can easily enter your expenditure and get a summary of your savings, how much you are spending and where, and other data that helps to fine-tune your spending habits.

5. Save for rainy days

There will be months when you will need to spend some extra bucks to make ends meet. Therefore, you must save for those days beforehand.

Take a certain percentage of your income and save it in your bank account. Only use it when absolutely necessary.

6. Use student discount codes and coupons

Look for discount codes or coupons when you shop for your essentials. Local grocery shops and supermarkets frequently send out coupons that you can use while shopping at these stores to save a few extra bucks.

7. Pay off credit card debts

Even though you might be tempted to wait until you graduate to pay off your debt and loans, it is wiser to start paying them off while you are still studying.

High-interest debts, such as credit card debt, can be quite a burden every month. Once you start paying them off, the amount of interest goes down, and you can save a lot of money this way.

8. Avoid borrowing money

A good way to keep stable savings is to live below your means and not borrow money from your friends or family.

Once you get into the habit of borrowing, the debt keeps rising. It also ruins your habit of saving up. Focus on saving more and using that money during emergencies rather than borrowing from someone.

9. Avoid using credit cards

Credits cards can be a trap, especially for students who are new to budgeting. Before you know it, you will have wasted a lot of money buying unnecessary things, and the debt will keep piling up.

Withdraw the money you want to spend and pay in cash. It gives you an estimate of how much you’re actually spending.

10. Prepare a budget for social occasions and entertainment

Preparing a budget for social events and entertainment can be a good idea. You can choose to attend the events that are most important to you and have a fixed budget for each.

Or you can allocate a monthly budget for this expense and choose how many of such events you can fit within the budget.

11. Avoid dining out too often

Eating out can cost you a lot. Groceries are much cheaper, and cooking at home can help save you a lot of money. You can keep a separate budget for dining out or indulging in more expensive foods once in a while.

12. Utilize your student status

Your student email or student ID can help save a lot of money. Signing up for a new course? See if your ID can get you a discount. Attending a seminar? Check if they have free or partial entry fees for students. Use your student status for as many rebates as you can.

13. Save money in grocery shopping

Grocery shopping is a daunting ordeal, but don’t lose hope. Don’t spend money on things you don’t need.

Don’t buy snacks you won’t eat or veggies that will rot in your refrigerator. Make a list of what you truly need and ignore temptations during shopping.

14. Save money on textbooks

Textbooks are expensive and can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per semester. Use discount codes or textbook rental websites to save money.

Websites like Amazon, Chegg, and Campus Book Rentals have easy policies and great offers for college students. 

15. Shop on a budget

Shopping at a thrift store or dollar store can also save you a lot of money. They often have recycled items or new items at a heavy discount, making the purchases budget-friendly.

16. Follow the 50-30-20 Budget Rule

If you are unsure of how much to save, you can always follow the 50-30-20 budget rule.

According to this rule, one should use 50% of their income for their needs, such as rent, food, education, treatment, and clothing. 30% of your income could go for your wants, such as social events, entertainment, and hobbies. The other 20% should be saved without a second thought.

17. Get a part-time job

Struggling to save with your current income? Get a part-time job. There are job opportunities for students which come with flexible hours and decent pay – so your studies won’t suffer. Identify your skills first, and then look for a job that complements your skills.

18. Give up smoking

Believe it or not, but smoking is creating a dent in your budget and is cutting off a lot from your savings.

A pack of cigarettes can cost $6 to $11, depending on which state you’re in. If you quit smoking, you can use this money elsewhere.

19. Attend free events

Colleges offer a lot of free events for their students. You can attend art competitions, art exhibitions, football, and other sports events, theaters, open mic sessions, and much more. These events do not only entertain you for free but also provide you the opportunity to mingle and expand your network.

20. Use a cash back credit card

If you’re going to use a credit card, get a cash-back credit card to receive a good deal on purchases and instant cash back. But you must use the credit card responsibly. Otherwise, you could end up in serious credit card debt.

You might also like to read:

Best Study Motivation Tips for College Students

100+ Best Summer Bucket List Ideas for College Students

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20 Life-Changing Budgeting Tips for College Students

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