A Guide to Establishing a Budget for College Students

This guide walks college students through the different steps of establishing a budget.

Just like handling your classes, handling your budget is another part of the college life. When you begin college, you may want to establish a budget to help you manage your finances.

What's Your Income?

Your first step should include establishing what type of income you have. If you're working your way through college, you may have limited income once you pay for tuition or other loans. Perhaps your parents are helping you pay for college and supplying you with a monthly allowance. After making a list of your incoming money, tally it up and see what you have to work with.

Figure Out Where Your Money Goes

After you find out how much you have coming in, you need to figure out how much is going out. Some traditional methods involve carrying a mini spiral notebook and logging in your expenses. If you use this method, you may want to make categories to help you stay organized. You will want to keep track of your expenses for about a month, which allows you to really know what you're buying.

Establish Your Budget

After you've kept your log for about month, you can begin establishing a budget. Start by making a list of the things you have to spend money on, such as:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Books
  • Tuition
  • Food

The items shown above are usually set in stone. You probably won't be able to talk the electric company into giving you a better deal. However, other expenses are more flexible.

These expenses include eating out at restaurants, going to clubs and going to movie theatres. When you're establishing your budget, you will want to make sure that you'll be able to pay for the necessities. If things are tight, you will have to make concessions on the other expenses.

For more helpful tips on establishing a budget, you may want to visit or

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