How To Make a Budget – College Edition
If you’re not a finance or economics major, managing money can be a daunting task. Let’s be real, it can be a lot to deal with even if it is your focus of study! Prepping a budget and sticking to it can be so difficult, especially with soaring prices and the never-ending divide of streaming services. (Why do all of our favorite TV shows need to be split between five streaming services?!).
Not sure where to start? Try these quick tips to create a budget that helps understand and manage your finances while attending community college.
Get an idea of your expenses
Bills exist, whether we like it or not. From rent and car payments to utilities and streaming services – everything costs money. Understanding your monthly bills is key to establishing and keeping yourself on a workable budget. Take note of which bills are absolute necessities – food, housing, transportation – and those that you can afford to cancel or reduce a little bit. Once you have an idea of your monthly spend, it’ll be pretty clear how much you need to be making to cover it. There are plenty of apps to help you do this automatically, or you can keep track of it yourself through a log or a spreadsheet.
Figure out how much you make
For those of us with hourly pay and/or side gigs, it can be a little unclear at first glance what we’re actually making in a month. Understanding how much you need to work to get your basic needs met can help so much with time management – and realizing when you need to make a change to stay within budget.
Count on savings
Many of us don’t have the luxury of an emergency fund – but if you can, make it a priority. If there are some months you have less income, you lose your job, or there’s an unexpected expense thrown your way, you want to be prepared to handle it without having to take on debt.
Keep tuition costs in mind
Are you saving up to transfer? Does your financial aid not cover the cost of attending community college? Recognizing what your financial contribution to your education should be is a very important part of any college student’s budget – whether that’s paying down a student loan ahead of time or covering a few community college classes that exceeded your financial aid package. Even if you’re covered now, save for the future – when you transfer, your future self will thank you.
Work that side hustle
No matter what your talents or skills, there are options to earn some extra income. Investing some time into a side gig can help supplement your income, especially if you already have a part-time or full-time job. This can be a great way to funnel some money directly into your savings or start working at paying down student loans.
Creating and sticking to a budget is key for a financially healthy future. For more information on financial aid and how to save money while attending community college, check out this article.