Setting a Budget for the Remainder of Your College Career

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

counting quarters when budgeting

Welcome to adulting! It seems fun at first, but it’s also pretty risky. There’s a lot that can go wrong — especially with your money while you’re in college. The best way to protect yourself from debt or pesky fees is to set up a budget.

Here’s how you can make the best one possible in just a few easy steps:

  1. Gather Your Supplies

Before you get started, you’ll need your paperwork. Get a hold of a copy of every bill you pay regularly. Some frequent ones include your car insurance, phone, credit card, medical bills, debt to your parents, gym membership, Netflix subscription, etc. If you live in an apartment, bills would include your rent and utilities.

2. Categorize Everything

Then, if you use a debit or credit card, look at your complete spending statements from last month. Write it all down or print it out so you can categorize it. Our most common categories include Housing, Phone/Cable/Internet, Transportation, Food, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Insurance, Debt. Giving, and Savings.

Take those receipts or statements from your bank and start to give everything you spent a category. Eating out goes in Entertainment. The shoes you bought is classified as Lifestyle. Your credit card bill is in Debts. Do this until you’ve got a full picture of every dollar you’ve spent over the last month.

making a budget spreadsheet

3. Look at Your Income

Next, look at your paychecks, as well as any extra regular money you make from side jobs like babysitting or allowances from your parents. This is defined as income. If it’s not steady (say you work hourly or get tips), round down an average to be safe.

Compare your income and your total spend from last month. Does it cover your bills? If yes, then you’re doing great and proceed to step five. If not, move on to step four.

4. Get a Reality Check

Overspending in college is a huge issue and we rarely fail to see it until it’s too late and we’re short on cash. Now that you know you’re in the red, you need to act. Go back to those categories and see what you can cut. You can probably do without daily coffee or another new outfit in your closet every single month.

For example, if you’re consistently short $100, take $10 off of each category or cut out your shopping habit altogether. Can’t cut anything? Time to make more money with a side job or extra hours!

5. Give Yourself an Allowance

One great way to keep yourself within your budget is to ditch the cards and go cash only. I know — crazy! But it works, especially for overspenders! Having cash will make you think twice about those splurge night outs. And it will help you visualize your money. Use envelopes, clips, or even dividers in your wallet for your categories.

If you’re not comfortable carrying large amounts of cash, you can set up checking bank accounts or a reloadable Visa gift card for your big spend items (like eating out or shopping).

Start saving, even if it is just a piggybank!

6. Be Wise With the Extra

Now is the time to pay down your student loans. If you pay while you’re in college, even a small amount monthly, you’ll save HUGE on the amount owed when you graduate. No student loans? Get investing! Open a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA and save for retirement. Or open a traditional savings account and save for that future expense like a new car or your study abroad. When you know how to budget, you can afford to treat yourself.

Taking the initiative to establish a budget while still in college is one of the most important money-conscious actions that you can take. If you can abide by a stricter budget while in college, it will be a breeze post-graduation. Not only will you feel like a million bucks by having your finances under control, you will be well on your way to saving that million!

The Best App for Finding Deals on Campus

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

It’s really been a crazy week getting back into the swing of things! Classes at the University of Illinois have officially started. I forgot just how exhausting it is when you spend all day on campus going from class to class.

Now that I’m not living in the dorms or participating in a meal plan, I’m on my own in terms of feeding myself. Sometimes my busy schedule doesn’t allow me to come back to my apartment in between classes to grab a meal. Even though I can easily pack a lunch, sometimes I just want to pick something up on campus.

I also try to meet up with different friends during my longer breaks and sometimes we may want to grab coffee or a snack. Unfortunately, being on a college budget restricts the amount of times I can eat out. As someone who enjoys finding good deals, I found the perfect solution for saving money on eating out! I wanted to share this awesome app with all of you that has tons of great deals for the various places on campus.

Hooked is a food app that streams a live feed of exclusive deals at restaurants on campus. It doesn’t have every campus, so be sure to check if yours is one of them.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 1.40.08 PM

Once you download the app and enter your school, simply scroll through the feed to find the different deals. If you find a deal that you want to use, just select and show it when you go to pay. It works just the same as a regular coupon because you pay the business directly (not via the Hooked app).

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 1.38.21 PM

I was just scrolling through my feed now and how can you pass up buy one get on 50% off on froyo and free small fries from Mcdonald’s?

IMG_0635 IMG_0634

It’s a great app and now I can get deals whenever I eat out so I can save a bit of cash. Be sure to check it out and see if Hooked is on your campus!

Cheers.