The number one piece of advice I can tell incoming Freshman is that you need to budget. Come to move in day with a Fall budget prepared. Why is this so important? Because if you don’t budget, you’ll be broke by the end of September. That will force you to either keep calling home and begging for money, or take on a part time job that you weren’t prepared to do just to get by. You’re over 18 now which means your an adult. Time to walk the walk.
Budgeting will not only let you make that money last through the end of the semester but still allow you to have fun. So, what kind of things do you need to budget for?
- Books. Textbooks are NOT cheap. Don’t just buy them at face value. Look for used versions, rent them or find them online. Learn about the confusing Campus Bookstore Account to get your books before your aid comes through, if you’re buying them on campus. Your aid may not always cover enough for books so be prepared for that.
- Food. If you have a mealplan, you can budget your mealpoints. We’ve gone over that in the past. But what about when your suitemates want to eat off campus? Be prepared for those situations.
- Transportation. Will you have a car on campus? Be ready to budget for gas, repairs, insurance and those pesky parking tickets.
- Bills. Oh yeah, you have to do that too. Paying for your cell phone bill? How about Netflix? Try getting creative and splitting Netflix with a friend to save on costs. Otherwise, whatever your bills are, make sure they are budgeted.
- Entertainment. Yes, make yourself a fun category. Just keep the amount you spend at a minimum. Try to do as many free activities as possible. But budget yourself some money for those concert tickets you need or getting your hair done.
You can really budget for any category you want but there are some basic principles you should stick to. Budgeting really opens your eyes into where your money is going. That trip to Target for $2 shaving cream, turned into a $50 trip because you had to have crackers and that shirt that was on clearance plus that cute watch. Budgeting helps you be more aware of these impulse buys and in the long run, you’ll have more money when you need it most.
Starting with a budget as a Freshman is really going to make a huge difference in the long run. Be smart and you can thank us on graduation day.