A 2009 study by the Delta Project shows that students are covering more of the cost of their education than in the past, which means budgeting for college students is increasingly essential. Here are some ways you can make sure that your spending habits are in check:
Track Your Spending
For the first two weeks of each quarter or semester, record every expense you have in a notebook. Write down how much you spend, where you spend it and what you buy. Once you have all of the data, you'll be able to evaluate your habits and decide whether or not you're being smart with your money. For example, if you find yourself spending money several days a week on fast food, you may want to consider cutting down that amount by cooking at home.
Make A Plan
Once you have an idea of your purchasing habits, develop a budget. Separate your expenses into different categories, like entertainment, books, food, and travel. Allocate a certain amount for each section every week. Try to take into account the due dates of any bills or the days you receive money. Spread out your spending as much as possible to avoid overdoing it in the first few weeks of the month and having to scrape by after that. You should also make sure to save some of what you're making, preferably in an account with a high interest rate.
After establishing a plan for your monthly and weekly expenses, keep within the boundaries of your plan. Think ahead every week to see if you have anything new to account for. For example, if you know you need to buy more school supplies, put it into your budget. You may have to take some money away from certain areas and put it toward others on an as needed basis. Also, be aware that you can't always anticipate everything that happens.
An unexpected occurrence can wreak havoc on your budget, but if you alter your spending schedule accordingly, you should come out unscathed. Be realistic about what you can and can't afford, and plan your social life around it. If you can't really cough up the cash to go to the movies with your friends, ask them if they'd rather watch a film at home.