Budgeting Tips for College Students

At the same time, you don’t have a lot of money, and you need to make it stretch. -I’m altogether with rent and utilities it comes out to $432 a month. -$650 a month.

-How are you going to pay for it? -That’s a good question. I might be in debt soon. -And lastly, it’s college.

You still have to have fun. You still have to go on spring break. You still need to date. You still need to go out with your friends every once and a while, but maybe not too often. It’s a challenge. So what do you do?

First, set a budget. List all the expenses like tuition and books and things where you really can’t control the cost. And then figure out how much you have left over for things where you can control the cost.

And at college, I would say the big two are really where you live and your meal plan. -Last year I lived in the dorms, and next year I’m going to be living in the most desirable place, which is ridiculously expensive. -When I was at school in North Carolina, I lived in a dorm without air conditioning. And I got to say it was really rough and hot and sticky for a few days out of the year, but it saved me about $1,500 every semester. And then when I had the opportunity, I moved to a near campus apartment that had a kitchen, and I cooked almost all my meals and I saved a few grand every year on a meal plan. The result was that when spring rolled around, I had plenty of money for spring break.

And I went to Florida one year. I went on a Caribbean cruise the next. Had money to spare for dating and all sorts of fun stuff, and I didn’t feel deprived. Speaking of spring break expenses, I had more than a few friends who racked up some serious credit card debt.

-Like if you make your payments and stuff, your credit line opens up more. And they send out, you know, your reports to different credit cards, and you can get more credit cards. -Now, credit cards can be a good thing, and that’s primarily because they help you build your credit history. Basically, building your credit history means you’re showing the world that, yes, I can take on debt, but I can pay it back promptly and not get myself into trouble. You don’t have to go it alone with your credit card.

mint.com can help you track your credit card expenses so you don’t overspend. It can send you an email or an SMS bill reminder so you pay your credit card on time and build that good history. By the way, don’t sign up for a new credit card just because they give you a free t-shirt at the credit union.

The best kind of credit cards are the ones that give you rewards. They give you miles to visit home, or they pay you 1% to 3% cash back on everything you spend. You can get paid to use your credit card. Get one of those. And mint.com can help show you what the best credit card for you actually is. Just use a tool like mint.com to track your expenses.

Mint links directly to all your checking and savings accounts, all your credit cards, your students, so you can stay on top of your finances in one place. -You know if you’ve got to spend money on all these different things like rent and the security deposit. I have to put that down soon. Food, laundry, it all adds up very quickly.

Gas, so definitely you have to make a good budget. -And rather than watch every dollar every single day, go onto Mint, set up a budget for bars and restaurants, for shopping, for entertainment, even for books if you want to. And when you get close to exceeding your budget, Mint will email you. It’s really that simple. You don’t have to keep track of it every single day.

So in summary, to make it financially in college, cut back where you can on things like housing or meal plans. Reward your efforts by having fun from time to time, but do so without racking up a whole lot of credit card debt, and use mint.com to stay on top of it all.