If you were to open up your online bank tracking, would you be shocked by how much money you spent at Starbucks this month? Probably – and that’s a problem when you consider the many other things that demand your cash while you’re at school. These tips will help you manage your college budget more efficiently. And hey, you may not even have to give up your triple-espresso caramel macchiato (though you probably should cut down on the caffeine).
1. Track your purchases.
Use the website mint.com to track how much you’ve spent and on what you’re spending. Mint categorizes your purchases automatically, and you can create personalized categories if you’re really curious about how much you spend on burritos/lattes/shoes specifically. Once you start to see the breakdown, you may notice you’re spending far too much on one thing and not enough on another.
2. Budget your cashflow!
Once you figure out how much you’re spending and on what, look at how much you’re making. The obvious goal is to spend less than you make in the same time interval. But that’s a little harder than it sounds, so check out the budgeting options on Mint, too. You can set your budget goal and check in on it whenever you’d like. Since you can monitor this, you’ll see if you’re getting a little too close for comfort on the Starbucks budget, and drink mediocre dining hall coffee ‘til the end of the month. (It’s not that bad…)
Quick pause: just want to let you know that getting your textbooks on Boundless will save you tons of money, too.
3. Think forward in time.
There might not be any two words more cringe-worthy than “credit card,” but establishing credit through small credit card purchases will help you in the long run. Don’t go crazy, and keep your purchases to their usual frugality, but use a credit card occasionally. Pay off your bill in full within the month, and you’ll have built some credit by the time you need to borrow money for those big, “real life” purchases.
4. Be frugal.
Take advantage of every free service or discount your school offers, from 10% off haircuts to free pizza at club meetings. Get in the know, and save your money by using student discounts as much as possible! Be extra smart by getting your textbooks at Boundless, saving yourself a huge sum of dolla dolla bills, y’all.
Once you’ve got a handle on your money, you can relax a bit more as you study. Happy saving!