Budgeting your money should be a top priority if you are due to start college as a freshman. You will soon come to realize, fairly quickly in-fact, exactly how difficult it is to pay for everything that you want and need as soon as you start college and realize that the only person you have to rely on for money is yourself and any income you may have, if any at all. Many freshman rely solely on savings and grants and therefore have no income whatsoever. This makes budgeting even more important. If you are lucky enough to have a part-time, evening or weekend job in-between your studies then that is even better because you will have an income, no matter how miniscule, to work with. Here are some easy to follow budgeting tips for college freshmen that are sure to help your financial woes and worries throughout the early stages of college education.
How much do you have to begin with?
It is firstly important to note exactly how much money you have to begin with. Knowing what you have to spend will allow you to be able to make responsible decisions in regards to your money. Everyone needs to relax, wind down and have fun in-between their studies. College is meant to be fun too and is not all about education. However, you can only have as much fun as your budget lets you. Always keep track of how much you have to begin with, keep track of whatever you spend and always know where your next payment, if any, is coming from in order to make adult, responsible decisions and to avoid monetary related stress and worry. Going out and gettung a job to subsequently get more money to play with also falls into this category.
Adopting a frugal mindset
Frugal living basically defines living on what you need rather than what you want. As a college freshman, this is an essential budgeting technique that could make your time at college so much more enjoyable and much less strenuous. Simply buy things that you need. Opt for cheaper alternatives when it comes to grocery shopping rather than buying brand names. Take steps to lower utility bills such as installing energy efficient bulbs and making proper use of solar lamps. Consider drying your laundry on a clothes horse rather than using a dryer and consider hand washing your dirty pots and pans rather than using a dish washer.
Ensure the TV is not left on standby, ensure all appliances are switched off when not in use and never leave a smartphone or cellphone charger plugged in when not in use. The same thing applies with the computer and laptop. Never leave them plugged in and never leave them switched on when you are not using them. It really is the simple things, like making frugal changes, which can make huge, positive impacts on your budgeting and subsequent enjoyment of college as a freshman.
Creating a fun and entertainment budget
These days, part of being a freshman at college is all about the parties and the drinking lifestyle. This lifestyle is not cheap however. If you are looking to budget effectively and make the most of college education, avoid this lifestyle all together and opt for cheaper, money friendly and study friendly entertainment. Invest in a video games console such as the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii or Sony Playstation 3 and have a night in gaming with friends rather than going out. Drinking is cheaper when it is done at home with close friends rather than at a club or bar with random people that are always looking for a fight. Similarly, invest in a DVD or Bluray player and host some movie parties. The same thing applies trend-wise; it is cheaper to stay in than it is to go out, which is an incredibly important fact to pay attention to and abide by when you are a college freshman on a budget.
These days, being a college freshman is harder than ever for a number of reasons. Firstly, the pressure of society is on you and your family. Your parents may not be able to afford to support you in college due to their own financial issues and worries due to the harsh effects of the recession. Secondly, the pressure is also on you to ‘become a party animal’ and succumb to the drinking student lifestyle. Ignoring these two stereotypes is flawless for your independence and your educational future and more importantly; your budget. Get a part-time, weekend or evening job in-between your studies to help support yourself and take the weight off your parents, opt for a night in with your close friends rather than going out as a budgeting technique that is guaranteed to help you save money, and use the other tips featured above such as adopting a frugal mindset to help your budgeting as a college freshman.