Live how you want on a college student’s budget

By Natalie Stanowski, Staff Writer

Whether you’ve just moved out of the dorms and are getting a taste of apartment life, or if you’ve been renting one for semesters now, it’s not easy to keep track of your budget when you’re living independently. Here are a few ways you can better manage your expenses now that you’ve got a place of your own. 

Use a budgeting app

While keeping and sticking to a budget is no easy task for a beginner, it’s a lot easier if you use the right tools for the job. In the age of technology, why bother writing out all of your expenses by hand? Instead, invest in a free smartphone app that can help automate the process of tracking your expenses.

These apps will let you sync themselves with your bank account directly, meaning they can automatically track how much you are spending on food versus entertainment, etc. They even give you a monthly report to see where the bulk of your expenses went to, meaning you can focus on cutting down in that specific area.

Figure out how much you can afford to spend

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Unlike full-time working adults, college students tend to have a less clear view of their monthly income. Whereas a full-time worker can just subtract monthly rent from monthly income, many students don’t pay for their living spaces with salary money.

If you’re one of the students stretching out their loan or grant money over the course of the year, divide the amount by the number of months you need to pay rent. From there you can see how much money you’ll have left over for other expenses like groceries and cell phone bills.

Knowing that number will ensure you don’t spend too much money one month only to find your grant or loan has ran out before your final month’s rent is due. It might be a good idea to use an app that alerts you if you spend over a certain amount in a month, just to be safe.

Save money where you can

No matter what your monthly budget ends up being, it always helps to have a little wiggle room for unexpected expenses. It’s good to have some emergency funds saved up for situations like these, but if you don’t have any, you can also reduce everyday costs to be left with a little extra at the end of the month.

As a University student,  you should pay close attention to students discounts and deals. Places like the TechZone offer educational pricing, meaning students will always get the best deal, and certain programs like Microsoft Suite are free as long as you provide a valid University email address. Buying used textbooks or renting them instead of buying them new is also a great way to shave off expenses in the back-to-school rush. 

By saving a few bucks here and there, you’ll find your bank account left with a little more breathing room at the end of the month.

Natalie is a sophomore in LAS.

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