"Hacking" College Costs: Budgeting for the Better

“Hacking” College Costs is our new weekly series. We’re giving you an insider look into how much college really costs, and how to prepare well. Written by real college students who’ve seen it all, these posts will help you stay financially healthy during and after college.

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Spring Break isn’t the only time when college students spend their money! Throughout the college experience, money is spent almost everyday at a bizarre rate. For many first-year students, college is a time when they are finally  given the opportunity to have free reign over their finances without parents over their shoulders every hour, preaching about spending too much and not saving enough. Budgeting at this time in your life is crucial, because in many cases, college becomes ridiculously expensive. In this blog post, we’ll explain in detail  how you can budget for the better!

Budgeting = Discipline

The first rule of budgeting is this: When you create your budgeting plan, stick to it!

In many cases, sticking to an initial decision is hard, but when you finally complete your financial goal, you will feel amazing! Below are three ways to obtain financial discipline:

  1. Make a Plan:

    Creating a plan helps you visualize your financial “needs”, “wants” and “nice-to-have”. This list should contain items like rent, books, food, clothes, and more. If you find yourself spending $7.00 per day on food, cut back on eating out and bring food from home every other day! After cutting back from spending, put $20.00 away in your savings and use it towards your personal goal. Doing this will help build your financial discipline and prevent you from taking on more debt.

  2. Needs > Wants :

    Prioritizing needs over wants doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life on a budget. it simply means that you should make sure your needs are always met first before you spend on your wants. A simple way to complete this is by putting aside enough money each month for the “needs” category of your plan. Resist the urge to purchase things that aren’t on that list and this, too, will build your financial discipline.

  3. Set Aside an Emergency Fund:

    As you continue your journey of efficiently budgeting, keep in mind that emergencies do happen! As you track all of your spending habits, you can also determine each month how much you should put into an emergency fund or “savings” account. An emergency fund is an important part of budgeting, because it allows you to have something to fall back on in case something unexpected happens--which happens all the time in college! Not only can you use this fund to fall back on in college, you can also see these funds as an investment of yourself.

    Below are 10 common college emergencies that often lead students to lose money before they even have it:

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Budgeting Takes Time

Most first-time budgeters take about three months to stick to their plan. Budgeting isn’t something that happens in a day, but every day that you stick to your plan, it becomes easier every time. We’re providing you with an easy checklist to make sure you accomplish your main budgeting task for each month:

You can download the PDF checklist along with our budgeting template at the end of this post!

You can download the PDF checklist along with our budgeting template at the end of this post!


Start Budgeting!

We hope that you’ve now gained enough knowledge to budget for the better! The information we’ve given you are essential tools that will help you budget efficiently and smoothly with no problems. While discipline is very important, it is also important to not be too tough on yourself and to remember to reward yourself from time to time with small things (that are in the budget).  

Starting this process may feel like you’ve taken another class in college, but once you complete your financial goals, you’ll feel on top of the world!

Good Luck! - Team BestFit