Budgeting in College

College marks the beginning of many firsts.  For many it will be the first time managing finances completely on your own.  It’s important to establish a good budget so you can manage your day-to-day expenses and avoid racking up a lot of debt while you are in school.  A good budget helps you manage short-term spending for things like food and books as well as long-term goals like a spring break vacation.

Track Your Spending

To get a good idea of where your money is going, keep a financial journal.  Note every penny spent for 4-6 weeks.  There are many apps out there to help with this and for Idaho Central members, this is easy to set up through eBranch.

Create a Budget

Map out your various streams of income, including money get from your parents, income from jobs as well as money coming in from student loans, grants, and other types of financial aid. Then take a look at the expenses you have been tracking to figure out what is reasonable to be spending each month. Categorize the expenses you have been tracking and create a dollar amount for each that you will try to stick to each month. Sticking to your budget will give you the peace of mind that you will have enough money to cover all your expenses each month.

Cut Back

Once you start tracking your spending, you’ll be able to see ways to save money. Take a hard look at the difference between your needs and wants and cut things that aren’t essential. Find ways to reduce or eliminate those non-essential costs. Instead of going to that movie on opening day, wait until it hits the dollar theater. There are many ways to still have fun while pinching pennies.