From tuition to a night out with your friends, college is paired with the inescapable dependency on currency. A vast number of students (myself included) find it difficult to meet the rigid expenditures of collegiate life. This results in either cutting back on quality of life (like living off the ever popular “ramen and hotdog diet”) or the ever-awkward request for familial financial support. Luckily, through years of trials and tribulations, I have found three “golden rules” to help you live within your means without sacrificing your social life.
Create A Realistic Budget
I understand that this may seem like an obvious point to make, but it is the one that is most often neglected. Creating a budget to center your expenditures around is the most vital point of surviving the constant constraints you are most likely to meet in college. From holding a job, to financial aid, creating a plan of action to ration each of those precious dollars allows for greater financial flexibility. If you know you have $600 due every month for rent, you spend $150 a month on groceries and have a $1,000/mo. budget, it doesn’t take much math to figure out you have just over $60 to spend a week on, well, you! Just make sure that you set your budget realistically, as sticking to it will be the foundation of financial success!
Yet another obvious point. Hear me out on this one. How many times have you known you had a rather large expenditure approaching and (through some stroke of bad luck) things didn’t go exactly as planned? Cut a payment too close for comfort? Well this ties extremely well into budgeting (which if you have gotten this far, you probably understand the importance of). If you know you have tuition coming up, plan accordingly. The farther in advance you place money aside, the less impact an unforeseen event can have on your budget (it also makes a nice “absolute emergency” fund).
Before you load up your cart with ramen, read this. You can (more or less) eat like a king off of a $40 a month food budget. If you haven’t purchased one, invest in a crockpot. For less than ten dollars you can make enough chicken chili to eat for days. 1.5lbs of frozen chicken is $6, a large can of beans will run you a dollar, and a can of tomatoes will run you about another dollar. You now have 2lbs of food for just over 8 bucks! A slow-cooked chicken soup costs the same and makes twice as much! Being able to make food in advance (and in bulk) will save you loads on groceries and helps you avoid that fatty fast food as a bonus!
I’m not promising these three guidelines will solve all of your monetary troubles, but I can guarantee you they will help! Just keep these in your mind, and it will make your college experience much less stressful. This will allow you to focus more on what you love, homework!