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Four Tips for Budgeting as a College Student

August 21, 2023

By Jessica Seleman, marketing intern and senior at Southern New Hampshire University 

Your spending patterns as a college student may have an influence on both your present and future financial health. Designing and maintaining a budget while you’re still in college may help you achieve important goals and develop your lifelong financial literacy. 

According to U.S. News, 60% of two-year college students said they use a budget and only 39% of four-year college students use budgets. And yet the first step in understanding how to manage your finances is to identify where your money goes each month. This will help you down the road if you have long-term goals of paying off school debt, traveling, or saving money to buy a home. 

1. How to budget

  • Calculating income: While in college, you might be working a part-time job, on-campus work study, or an internship to support contributing to your education or to cover expenses. The first step in creating a budget is determining how much money you make each month, which is a crucial component of any budget. Based on this, you may determine how much money you have to spend. Learn how to create a simple budget.  
  • Create a list of all your expenses: Add up all of your routine payments to determine your average monthly expenses. Then organize the expenses into fixed and variable categories. Fixed costs include essential monthly bills such as rent, groceries, and transportation. Variable expenses are purchases like gym memberships, meals, subscriptions, and entertainment that can be adjusted.
  • Adjustments: The final step is to determine whether your income can support your expenses, or if you need to make changes. If your expenses are more than your income, it’s important to figure out what expenses can be limited or removed. 

2. Budgeting apps

  • Consider using a budgeting app to keep your finances on track. 

3. Set up customized alerts in online and mobile banking 

  • If you’re a Middlesex Savings Bank customer, you can set up customized alerts for your online banking account. You can enable push notifications to be alerted for customized balance thresholds, online transactions, reminders, and more all from our mobile app. Learn more, here.  

4. Benefits of budgeting now 

  • Meeting your financial goals: Everyone has different financial goals, but it is important to think about balancing both short-term and long-term goals. While you might not be thinking about buying a house in college, it's never too early to start practicing good financial management. 
  • Prepare for emergencies: You never know when you’ll have a car problem or other emergency. When these events happen, setting aside a portion of each paycheck might help avoid financial difficulty. 
  • Prevent overspending: When making a budget, you can allocate a set amount for discretionary spending. However, without a strategy in place, people may overspend and fail to meet their savings targets or eventually get into debt. 
  • Reduce stress: Those who never use a budget have an average stress rate 10% higher than those who do. College can be expensive and it can be tough figuring out how to pay for tuition, books, and other expenses. Managing your money can go a long way and when you budget --you can feel more confident and in control.

Being a student requires you to juggle a lot, but prioritizing your budget is a lifelong skill that will help you in college and beyond.

by Middlesex Savings Bank