Blog College Preparation, Community

How to start a budget in college

Monday, August 7, 2017


It can be overwhelming for new college students to learn how to budget well. Without planning, it is easy to fall into the stereotype of being a “broke college student”. While college is not a time you usually see a huge increase in your income, it doesn’t have to be a time when you are drained of all your resources and worry about whether or not you will have enough to get by. A budget can be the key to starting off right financially in college. Here are 5 tips for how to start one:

1. Prepare and Invest

When it comes to budgeting, a bad budget is not much better than no budget at all. Set aside time to research and plan and make sure that you are entering correct and realistic information into your budget. 

2. Determine Your Wants and Your Needs

While making your budget, decide on what things are most important to you and what you can do without. Prioritize everything on your budget, so that if you have a large unexpected cost come up one month it will be easy to know which of your regular expenses needs to be cut out first.

3. Make it Flexible

Don’t lock yourself into an airtight budget. Expect the unexpected costs that will come up from time to time, and give yourself room so that you can afford an extra coffee here or there without it causing your budget to crumble to pieces. 

4. Save

Saving while in college is something that may feel hard at the time, but your future self will thank you for it. The more you can save the better, but saving 10-15% of your income is the recommended amount. 

5. Make Sure Everything is Balanced

When creating a budget, you are really just making sure that the money you take in (income + gifts + allowance) is more than the money you are spending (fixed expenses + variable expenses + savings). If it isn’t, then you will need to cut back on expenses or savings. Your income and expenses may vary a bit from month to month, so always make sure that your budget is up to date and that you are sticking to it.