Entering college is an exciting and sometimes intimidating venture for many students. Leaving high school and entering a college or university is a big step, and it is often the first time many young adults taste the freedom of the real world and venture out from the warmth and safety of their parents' homes. There are many different tasks that need to be juggled in order for a student's college experience to be successful. From studying and attending classes, to networking and maintaining finances, there is much that a college student must tackle. One specific area where many college students have difficulty is learning to budget effectively. Here is a look at how college students can more effectively manage their money while furthering their education.
SEE: Student Loans
Enroll in a Meal Plan
One step that you could take that will save you a considerable amount of money is enrolling in a meal plan. A meal plan is a pre-paid program where you pay a set amount of money for your meals on campus each semester. Additionally a meal plan is highly convenient. You can pick up a lunch or a snack whenever you'd like and you do not have to cook it yourself.
Share Expenses with a Roommate
Another way that you can reduce your cost while living at college is to share expenses with your room mate. When it comes to living in a dorm, you can expect to live in close quarters with another student. Many expenses can be shared between roommates such as furnishings and groceries.
Watch out for Impulse Spending
It can be very tempting to spend your money on things you want but don't need. It is important to curb your spending as you will need your money for more important things such as school supplies, clothing and text books. Rather than allowing your hard-earned money go to waste on frivolous items, watch your spending and use it on things that are essential to everyday living.
SEE: 10 Realistic Ways To Manage Your Student Debt Load
Determine What Is Essential and Non-Essential
Another point of difficulty for many college students who are just starting out on their own is determining the difference between essential and non-essential items. Essential items are products that you need for everyday living like food, hygienic products and clothing. Non-essential items are products that you want but don't need for everyday living. Non-essential items can include products such as a trip to the movies, electronic gadgets or another pair of sneakers when you already own three other pairs. Although it may be difficult at first, curb your spending to include only essential items until you are accustomed to living off of your budget.
Saving Money on Supplies
Saving money on many college supply items is easy, especially if you are living on campus. Before going straight to the campus bookstore, ask around to see if there is a used bookstore nearby. Chances are there is, and you could save a considerable amount of money on your textbooks for next semester. Additionally, you could save yourself even more money if you consider downloading your textbook to an e-Reader or tablet device. If you are looking to save on other supplies such as three-ring binders and loose leaf paper, consider buying in bulk from an office supply store such as Staples. Retailers often give you a discount when you buy a bulk amount of supplies from them. If all else fails, try an online site such as eCampus.com, which boasts that it can save college students up to 90% on new and used text books.
The Bottom Line
Entering college is an exciting milestone, and if this is your first time away from home, it can also be nerve-inducing. Get started on the right foot financially by taking the necessary steps to ensure a sturdy budget when you step foot onto the campus. Save money where you can, share expenses with a college roommate and, most importantly, be conscientious about your spending while you are away from home.
SEE: Stress Testing Your College Budget