September 9, 2013

6 Budgeting & Saving Tips for College Students

Budgeting and saving can be a challenge–especially for college students who may or may not be working full-time. The tips we’d like to share are ideas you may have heard elsewhere, but these never go out of style!

But first, let’s count on Bill Cosby for a little humor on budgeting:

Tip #1: Make a budget

Making a budget does not have to be intimidating.  Try this simple budget calculator. To get started, simply monitor what you spend money on so that your budget can be as accurate as possible. The idea is to see if (and why) you fall short so you can make adjustments accordingly, or hopefully, see how you can utilize extra funds for savings.

For example, if you see that you’re spending a lot of money at the grocery store, consider buying in bulk, using coupons, and purchasing sale items to cut back your grocery bill. Or, do all of your shopping on Sunday with the goal to buy a week’s worth of food for a set price. It can be a fun challenge!

Tip #2: Set a goal

It can be tempting to run out and buy the newest smart phone or a new swimsuit for spring break. By setting a feasible goal (short term or long term), studies show you will be more likely to save. And, think how great it would feel to purchase your goal with no guilt! Putting away as little as $5 per week will help you to reach your goal. Bonus points – print a picture of your goal, and tape it to a deposit envelope.

Tip #3: Use technology to help you

These days, technology makes it easy to track your spending and monitor your budget.

For websites, consider www.mint.com, which is a great way to manage your expenses and savings. If you are finding yourself in some debt, try www.powerpay.org . To learn the basics of all these things combined, check out www.handsonbanking.org for easy to understand information.

For phone apps, consider downloading these FREE ones by searching in the app store:

  • Mint
  • Save! The Game
  • P2K Money
  • Adaptu Wallet
  • Doxo
  • Easy Envelope Budget Aid
  • Pageonce

Tip #4: Identify Necessities vs. Wishes

Purchasing prescription medication, putting gas in your car, buying healthful foods, and rent are all typical necessities. But taking a look at “wants” to determine how you can cut back may do wonders for your budget.

It is surprising to see how fast a daily cup of coffee adds up. For example, consider brewing coffee at home instead of buying a cup every day. You will save over 75% this way (and you’ll still get to enjoy a cup of joe!). By doing this, it will free up money for true necessities.

Tip #5: Sign up for auto-deposits with your bank

If you are on a payroll for a job, or any kind of auto-deposit, you may be able to arrange for a certain percentage of your deposits to go straight to a savings account (before you even see the money). This requires no effort from you, other than the initial set-up. Check with your bank to see if they offer this and watch your savings grow! Even having your bank to put in 3-5% of each paycheck is a great start.

Tip #6: Ask others what works for them

Sometimes your closets friends and family members will have tried and true budget tips. Sure, you can Google budgeting tricks all day if you’d like (and we recommend it of course), but consider asking others what works for them. You may just come across a brilliant idea that works for you too.

What budgeting tips have worked for you?

About the author:

Kari Brayden was the Default Management Coordinator in the FRCC Financial Aid Office.