Budgeting Begins Long before College

Making ends meet is a lifetime goal that is worth before you get to college. However, college may to the first time you get to try it out without the safety net of parents right there to help out. So here are a few budgeting tips that may help the dollar stretch a little farther.

Supplies
Books are a major investment. Be prepared to spend around $1000 per year on textbooks. If there are online options choose that instead of purchasing the full text book. Buy used books if they are available.

Meal plans
Many college students prefer not to take advantage of the meal plans the college may have to offer. Many colleges offer a more flexible option where you can get discounted meals, but are not required to eat every meal. Those kind of flexible options can be great budgeting tools.

College housing
Keep the cost of housing down to a minimum. Dorms may be a good choice for the first couple of years.

There are some off campus housing units that are more affordable as well. Keep the housing simple and low cost. Sometimes it is hard to deal with roommates, but it can be a cost savings. Make certain that there are no loans between roommates and every pays their share.

Maintain scholarship
Scholarships are an important part of paying for  college.  It is sad how many freshmen lose their scholarship during their first year of college. For every 10 students that start college with the HOPE scholarship only three maintain it the entire time they are in college.

Get all the scholarships available and maintain the grades. Consider that money in your pocket.  Grades should be the full time job of a college student.

Realistic entertainment allowances
Yes, college is supposed to be fun as well. It is acceptable to have an entertainment budget. Consider purchasing a student pass to attend school sponsored events.  Look at the activities of the many clubs or organizations that are available at no or low cost.

Needs and wants
College is an excellent time to practice discipline with the differences between needs and wants. You need hot water in your apartment. You want cable television. You need to eat every day. You want to eat out every day. You want to have great new clothes. You need clean clothes to wear.

Basically it comes down to this. It is time to grow up and take life as an adult. Your goals, your grades, your money and your responsibility.