Freshman year on a budget

8 of the most important tips for your Freshman year on a budget

So you have finally graduated from high school and you are ready to spread your wings and fly right into college. Congratulations on all your hard work, but now the game has changed. Your responsibilities as a college freshman have bulked up and now you have to consider living by a budget if you are far from home.

So how will you manage a financial budget in college? This might not have been taught to you in high school, but we have the top tips to get your first year in college going just right. You want to make good habits stick now, so that they last you a lifetime.

Create a Budget
The word budget itself can seem overwhelming, but you can make it very simple. All a budget does is plan out your spending. Simply do not spend more than you make. Easy peasy, right?

To dive a bit deeper, add up all your anticipated expenses for the month, and compare that with your income from your part-time job or the help you might be receiving from your parents. As long as your expenses are less than your income, you are off to a great start.

For a more detailed budget plan, try out these popular apps:

Choose a Bank
If you have not done so already, now is a great time to open a checking and savings account with a bank. Use your checking account to pay your bills, while you stow away money in your savings account for spring break or a rainy day.

There are two very important things to consider when choosing a bank. First, ask about any fees they charge. Some banks require a minimum monthly balance or they will charge you a fee. Also, ask about the interest you can earn on your savings account. It pays big to choose a bank with higher interest earnings.

Get all the student discounts
College students are privy to many discounts, and you can take advantage. Use your college ID to score huge discounts on sporting events, food and other types of entertainment.

Cut costs with textbooks
A huge pain that comes with college are the textbooks. Not only are they big and bulky, but they are expensive. You can save a ton by searching for your books online with Amazon or Chegg.com. You can rent them or get incredible discounts using these sites.

Be smart about student loans
Ideally, not having to take out a student loan is your best bet. However, not everyone has a full ride scholarship or a sponsor (i.e. parents footing the bill).

If you must have student loan debt, be smart about it. Your biggest mistake in getting a student loan is taking more than you need. It is easy to do, but you are setting yourself up for big regrets. Save money on interest by only borrowing what you need. If you receive more, then pay it right back!

Be picky about food
This IS the time to be picky about your food choices. You can really put a dent in your budget if you eat out a lot. Check out your campus to see if their meal plan is reasonable, otherwise take advantage of your dorm’s kitchen. Make simple meals whenever possible.

You want to avoid convenience type foods. Also, consider shopping at discounted grocery chains like Aldi’s (if they are in your area) and start clipping coupons.

Look for campus freebies
College life is great because the campus usually hosts free events for all students to enjoy. This is a great way to save on your entertainment budget (and you don’t have to travel far). The bonus here is that you end up meeting new people and making new friends.

Automate your savings
People who successfully budget (especially in their college years) do so by not thinking about it. Automating money that is dumped into your savings account will do just that for you. Take the decision out of saving monthly and have your account automatically put money in savings for you. Once you pick out a bank, ask them to set this up for you.

Final Thoughts
Your freshman year in college is going to be full of exciting new things and new responsibilities. By setting yourself up for success now, you can enjoy a lifetime of good financial habits. The best part, is that budgeting in college can be easy and still filled with fun activities.

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