Budgeting (and Saving) 101
It’s easy to get caught up in the college experience until you suddenly ﬁnd you’ve run out of money. Use these
basic techniques to avoid overspending.
1. Figure Out Where Your Money Is Going – This may be tricky, but it will clue you in to what’s making
your balance low. Save receipts for everything you buy for a month, or use your ﬁnancial institution’s
online banking feature to add up your expenses verses your income. You’ll discover what’s depleting
your money and what you can avoid. Often it’s the little things that add up that you often don’t even
2. Start Small & Be Realistic – Budgeting can be a daunting task, so don’t set yourself up for failure. If
you know you have a problem expenditure, instead of eliminating it altogether, simply cut back slowly.
For example, if you’re a coffee shop fanatic and make daily visits, instead of not going altogether, start
going three to four times a week and gradually cut back over the course of a few months.
3. Seek Alternatives – In the coffee shop example, you can also start brewing your coffee at home. Or if
soda is your beverage of choice, instead of buying it from the vending machine, buy a twelve-pack at the
supermarket. Find alternative ways to buy the things you want.
4. Budget for Fun – Don’t be too strict on yourself by only spending money on essentials. You will likely
feel deprived and fail. Remember to set money aside for movies, music or whatever else you enjoy
spending money on.
5. Start Saving – It’s hard to do, but if you can start saving a little each month, you can build an
emergency fund. This can be relied on when the unexpected happens, like car repair. Or you can use it
for future purchases like a spring break trip. Here are some ways to cut back on your expenses.
• Take advantage of student discounts. This works great for electronics, books, events and more.
• Buy used textbooks instead of new. Or, participate in a campus textbook swap.
• Know your mobile or cell phone plan. Avoid overages by being texted when your minutes are close
to being used up.
• Eat out for lunch instead of dinner (lunch menus are typically cheaper). Better yet, shop at the
grocery store and bring your own food for lunch on campus.
• Invest in a reusable water bottle and reﬁll it. If you don’t buy a $2 bottle of water every weekday all
month, you’ll save over $40 each month. That’s almost $500 saved each year!
• Walk, bike or ride the bus instead of owning a car on campus. You’ll save money on gas, car
insurance, parking costs and more.
• Seek out discounts on items you buy regularly. Use sites like retailmenot.com for online purchases
or use amazon.com for things like computer toner.
• Avoid disposables when possible. Instead of eating on paper plates with plastic utensils, buy
inexpensive plastic dinnerware at the store that you wash and reuse. Or, borrow items from your
parents. It will save money and help the environment, too.
It’s almost always less expensive to live with
roommates than on your own. The more the
merrier – and the cheaper!