ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Personal Finance»
  • Paying for College

How Can College Students Budget Personal Finances? The Special Challenges

Updated on September 5, 2013

The four essential steps of budgeting differ for college students than for other people. It is easier in some ways because there are fewer categories to budget for, but harder because there is such little control over the big expenses. When the big expenses control the budget and come only two or three times a year, it is tempting to give up on trying to budget the rest.

There are two problems with failing to budget college expenses. One is that you lose control over the rest of your expenses and fail to properly manage cash flow. The other is that it means you will be less likely to start budgeting when you’re out of college.

Establishing a student budget: Four steps

The student challenges in each step are discussed separately.

  1. Create a record of past income and expenses
  2. Project income into the future
  3. Project expenses into the future
  4. Balance your budget and monitor income and expenses against it

Create a record of past income and expenses

As a college student, your income may vary considerably from one year to the next depending on job changes, scholarships, grants and help from family. Tuition, fees, room and board (if in a dorm) are relatively fixed and known quite far in advance. Whether you spent it last year or not, you know what it will be next year. It’s the personal expenses that you can add up, estimate or in some way figure out what you typically spend. If you haven’t been keeping records, do it for one month and multiply by twelve. It won’t be too accurate, but can always be revised later.

Project income into the future

Project this year’s income based on last year’s income and what you can predict will change this year. Make about three or four income categories if necessary.

  • Employment (summer job, part-time work, etc.)
  • Scholarships and grants
  • Student loans (the low-interest kind; credit cards don’t count!)
  • Help from family

Project expenses into the future

Organize your record of past expenses into several categories that fit for you. Don’t make too many categories. Here are some suggestions.

Source
  • Charity (church, political, the needy student down the hall, etc.)
  • Tuition & Fees
  • Books & Supplies
  • Room & Board (or Housing and Food if you pay them separately)
  • Local Transportation
  • Travel (if Christmas, summer and Spring break trips will upset your local transportation budget)
  • Toiletries
  • Entertainment
  • Savings (doesn’t have to be much, but it will be harder to add later if missing now)
  • Miscellaneous (if you find that a certain kind of expense, e.g. membership fees, tends to dominate this category, then it needs its own category)

Start with the amounts you spent last year, but then adjust them based on what you know will be different this year. That may be because of a change in tuition rates, housing arrangements or even a New Year’s resolution to not eat so much pizza—whatever.

Money Management for College Students
Money Management for College Students

by Larry Burkett, author of 50 books; founder of Christian Financial Concepts, Inc.

 

Balance your budget and monitor income and expenses against it

OK, that was the easy part. Now you need to make sure the budget works. First compare the income and expense budgets. Income must always exceed expenses. If it doesn’t, then expenses need to be trimmed to fit income. If this seems to be impossible, it is better to know now than halfway through the semester. Can you increase the income through more work, loans or help from family? Maybe you will have to give up the car this year, move to less expensive quarters or reduce your course load to work more. Do whatever it takes to make your income budget exceed your expense budget.

After that, you’ll need to monitor closely for compliance. Sounds too strict? It won’t work unless you keep track of income and expenses according to the categories you set up and then check at least monthly how you’re doing. The only other warning is to watch your cash flow. If you’ve got large payments two or three times a year, you need to have funds accumulating for those in advance.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Final year project presentation 7 years ago

      Savings in a student budget :P...way too difficult.....

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)