X

Budgeting for College Students: The Advantages

‚ÄčPotential student figuring out how to budget in college‚Äč

If you find yourself pushing the thought of budgeting your personal finances into the back of your mind, you are not alone. College students deal with so many other pressing issues like paper deadlines, tests, jobs and family obligations. This important piece of the puzzle can quickly become deprioritized when you stack it up against the other obligations in your life.

Part of the challenge here might be related to the fact that budgeting finances can seem daunting and perhaps a little bit boring. Maybe Microsoft Excel is not your friend. Again, you are not alone! There are many tools out there to help simplify the creation of a personal budget and to make it a little more engaging than you'd expect.

How to Budget in College

Microsoft Excel is an excellent student budget planner tool but if you never gained a knack for using formulas in Excel, that's okay. There are free products out there that do the behind-the-scenes calculations for you. The tool I use is called Mint. This tool helps you establish spending thresholds for many categories on a monthly basis. You can even have a category set aside for haircuts. Take some time to build out an appropriate budget that includes all of those essential things like your rent/mortgage, car payment, groceries, etc.

How Simple Changes Can Benefit You

Once your budget is created, you may be shocked at how much you spend. What's more, some people spend far more money than they make. However, you might be surprised at the wiggle room in your spending habits by making a few small changes.

You've heard it before and I'm going to say it again now: A daily run to a coffee shop or eating at restaurants several times a week can cost hundreds of dollars a year. Those are easy fixes that can have huge impacts to your budget. Imagine only going to a coffee shop once a week and making coffee at home the rest of the week. Depending on your drink of choice that could save you $15 a week. Fifteen dollars/week X 52 weeks in a year = $780/year. We're talking substantial savings there. That amount could cover a nice portion of tuition for you, thus resulting in $780 less in student loans you'd need to borrow that year.

Creating a Budget Pays Off

The best part about creating a budget and living a little frugally during your college years is that the money you save can be put towards the cost of your tuition, books, making payments on student loans you've already borrowed and many other things that thousands of students everyday use student loans to pay for. Remember, student loans are not the only option to pay for tuition. Creative budgeting and changes in spending habits can free up some sizable cash-pay options for you that lessens that student loan debt that you may carry for decades to come.

Once you have invested the time into creating a budget that works for you, you will see very clearly how much you spend in life. You will soon begin to think of ways to control your frivolous spending and eventually you will be able to contribute that saved money towards one of the most important investments you will ever make: Your education.

Jeremy Brannan is an assistant vice president of Student Financial Services at Southern New Hampshire University.

Education

Explore more content like this article

A woman working on a laptop and tablet computer on Trailhead's free online learning platform.

SNHU Partners with Salesforce to Bring College Credit to Trailhead

August 15, 2019

The partnership will allow SNHU and Trailhead to create pathways for users to earn college credit by completing admin and developer badges, all while gaining critical skills needed in today’s workforce and well into the future.

A college quad with people walking along a series of sidewalks in a geometric pattern.

Top 10 Must-Ask Questions for College Tours

July 17, 2019

Few things rank higher than choosing a college on a high school senior’s “first adult decisions” list. So it’s important for college-bound students to take the time to make the right decision – and that means asking the right questions on college tours.

A young woman filling out a student loan application.

What is a Student Loan and How Does it Work?

June 28, 2019

A student loan is money you can borrow from the U.S. Department of Education or a private organization to pay for college and repay later with interest.