Three Steps to Create a Budget as a College Student

by Catalina Benavides

1. Let’s get real. Before designing your own budget, you have to have control of your finances. Make sure you have your own bank account and a debit card, which avoids the temptation that credit cards represent since they seem like an unlimited source of money. Now it’s time to face your reality, you are a college student living off limited finances, it’s time to be smart with the money you do have.
2. List expenses in order of importance. Tuition, housing and food should be at the top of your priorities since they are basic necessities. Less important expenses, like money for shopping or to spend on recreational activities, must be limited. For example, put aside $20 for coffee for an entire week or limit yourself to only buying new clothes when it’s a super special occasion. Remind yourself that you have long term goals that can be met once you get the degree you’re working towards. A little sacrifice now will be worth it in the long run!
3. Track your spending daily. From the onset of the semester, you can limit yourself to spending a certain amount on food and school supplies daily. Eat out less and look into meal prepping to control food expense. For school supplies, look into renting textbooks online since ebooks are usually cheaper, or possibly buy used textbooks. Larger expenses, like tuition and living expenses, are not able to be decreased since they’re fixed; however, the money you do save now slowly starts to accumulate as a potential savings as time passes.
Here’s an example of a monthly personal budget for a possible college student with an income of $1200.00 per month. There are certain categories written on the left side, which would be your priorities, and on top of each column are an expected, actual and difference column. “Expected” expenses would have listed the amounts that are guaranteed. The “actual” column has listed the amounts that are actually spent for each of the priorities. In the “differences” column you will see if you are able to stick to your budget, saved money or exceed spending. For the following month, you’ll know if you have to cut back on expenses or if you will able to stick to the budget, you might be able to have a little extra spending money. Below are two examples of a student budget, one that overspent and one that saved.


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November 16, 2018