How to stay on a budget

By: Cammie Bagley
Athens/Living Editor

Many college students are inherently broke. In the midst of paying for tuition and room and board, young adults aren’t left with much money to spend on luxury items. While some may have jobs that pay well, most college students can usually only keep a part-time job that pays minimum wage in order to keep up with their studies.

For those who are fortunate enough to have a never ending cash flow, congratulations. However, the majority of college-age adults don’t have endless bank accounts, so it’s important to learn how to budget the little bit of money that one may have while in college in order to be able to do it in the real world, when there are actual bills to be paid.

Here are some budgeting tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plan ahead: For starters, make a budget. It may seem pointless and bothersome to get out a calculator and figure expenses out, but it’s well worth it. It’s important to know how much money there is to budget out for each paycheck and to then plan for the things that will be needed until the next one. When all costs are accounted for in advance, it’s less likely that there will be negative numbers in one’s bank account.
  2. Differentiate between “needs” and “wants:” While making a budget, one should first decide what is necessary to spend money on and what isn’t. Items such as shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste should take heed over eating out for dinner three nights a week. Set aside money for the essentials, and if there is some extra left over, then it’s okay to splurge on the “wants.”
  3. Save: It’s important to get in the habit of saving money. Make room in the budget for savings, no matter how annoying it may be to set aside perfectly spendable money. Saving for a rainy day can be a lifesaver in the future. 
  4. Be prepared for unexpected costs: Life throws curve balls all the time, and things that cost money will come up, even when unplanned for. Cars sometimes need new tires, laptops need new batteries and school supplies might run out halfway through the school year. One must remember to set aside a certain amount of money for those unexpected things.
  5. Plan to live within reasonable means: No, just because one is in college doesn’t mean they should be living in poverty. However, keep in mind that while in school, it’s not sensible to live an expensive lifestyle. Be realistic about how much is acceptable to spend on certain items. That may mean buying the off-brand of some things.  
  6. Fully commit to the budget: If a budget is made, it’s pointless not to follow it. It can be hard to stick to it. But if one doesn’t, then it was a waste of time, and the money that is needed for important items will be gone. 

It’s much easier said than done to not spend too much money and to live within a budget. Unfortunately though, it’s just not ideal for college students to spend tons of money on excessive items. Going out on occasion is understandable because it’s nice to be rewarded for getting through the week with a night out, but while in college, one should be saving and budgeting to prepare for what’s to come after graduation.

Use the above tips to ensure a comfortable lifestyle, or at least as comfortable of a lifestyle as college students can live. After all, those nightly trips to Taco Bell will add up, and they just aren’t worth going broke over.