7 Practical College Budgeting Tips

College is already a stressful enough time without having to sweat about every little expense. The biggest thing you can do to make sure you’re not stressed out about money every month is to set up a budget.

Here are 7 tips for setting up a budget in college:

Tip #1: Be Honest With Yourself

Sometimes the hardest part about figuring out your budget is telling yourself the honest truth. Maybe you have the tendency to splurge on something that you probably shouldn’t. Calculate that in because you can tell yourself that you aren’t gonna go for it next time but you can never be certain. It’s best to just know how your budget looks with that expense. If you’re feeling really ambitious, calculate your budget both ways.

Tip #2: Round Your Income Down and Your Expenses Up

This is a really simple way to make sure you have enough money to go around. Rounding your income down gives you a little extra money for just in case that you are for sure not counting on to get you through to the next paycheck. Rounding your expenses up means that you are not only overestimating your expenditure but it also leaves room for if you spend a bit more than you planned. Also, you get a little bonus pocket money for a rainy day.

Tip #3: Know the Difference Between “Needs” and “Wants”

Sometimes you have to cut back on your spending and you should make sure you’re not cutting out the wrong thing. The simplest example would be in your food expenses. Food is a need of course, but getting Doordash or a fancy latte multiple times during the week will add up quickly. Making your own meals is dramatically cheaper than buying meals and is also a useful skill to acquire.

Pro Tip: If you’ve accidentally blown through most of your food budget this month, go to the store and pick up a bunch of ramen – it’s a super easy meal to make, you can change it up, and it’s cheap. Check out our post about ways to spice up your ramen recipes.

Tip #4: Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room

When you’re figuring out your budget, try not to cut it close. If you do end up tight on cash at the end, that can be just as stressful or more stressful than not even knowing where your finances are at.

Tip #5: Add a “Savings” Category to Your Expenses

Setting aside funds every budget cycle sets you up with a nice emergency fund or a start to a large purchase. You don’t have to set aside a ridiculous amount of your income each time because the little amounts you do pull out build into a comfy collection.

Tip #6: Pay With Cash For the Little Things

Using cash to pay for things makes you think more about the money you are spending. When you swipe a card, magically things are paid for and you may not realize how much you are actually spending. Having a physical exchange gives you a better perspective.

Tip #7: Revisit & Review Your Budget

This is probably the most important part of making a budget. A budget needs to be kept up to date. Your situation is going to fluctuate and you’ll need to be sure your budget holds strong for the ride. That means it needs to be flexible and up to date.

Do you have a budgeting tip that you think we should include? Comment below!

Callie Kollenbroich has been the Operations Coordinator and Content Writer/Editor at Rent College Pads since 2015. When she's not working, you can find her at home, eating peanut butter out of the jar and bingeing an unhealthy amount of Forensic Files. She's not as lame as she sounds.

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