8 back-to-school budgeting tips for students

Being a college or university student is an expensive business, and the prices just keep going up. Rent, groceries, books and tuition. And those are just the necessities. While we encourage lots of studying and library time, you have to have some fun, too. Make sure you can afford to, with our 8 tips on budgeting your way through the coming school year. Tip 1. Write it out. You can download a budget worksheet, or take a sheet of paper and create two headings: Income & expenses. Write down all of your sources of money and all the things you expect to have to pay for. Be detailed, so you only have to do this once. Remember laundry, library fees, lab fees, lunch money, etc. Tip 2. Know how much money you have. Often, student income comes in a lump sum: scholarships, bursaries, parental contributions and loans. Even if you worked all summer, you will have a lump sum at the start of the year. Don’t make the mistake of running out of money before your next payment arrives. If you can, pay tuition up front in September to avoid fees you may be charged for a payment plan. Consider putting rent money in a separate account, so you can’t accidentally spend it. Take any money you have left and divide by the number of weeks (or months) in the term, so you know how much you have to spend. Tip 3. Increase your income. If your projected income won’t meet your total expenses, you may have to take on part-time work. Even as little as 5 to 15 hours a week while in school may help to balance your budget without taking up too much study time. Tip 4. Watch closely. Read your bank statements. Keep receipts and total them weekly or monthly. Be sure you are actually spending what you think you are, and what you can afford. Tip 5. Manage your debt. Chances are good you are already taking out a student loan. You will also be approached on and off campus by credit card companies offering fabulous “deals” with free gifts. Think carefully before signing up for anything. Low interest rates for the first 3-9 months always sound great, but if you rack up a balance and then the rate goes back up to 18% (or more) the debt can be crippling. Tip 6. Look for discounts. Many businesses offer deals to bring in student business: restaurants, clothing stores, movie theatres and more. Always remember to ask what you may qualify for – but don’t let the discount fool you into spending more money than you had planned! Tip 7. Learn to cook. Seriously. Why pay $5-$10 at the cafeteria for something you could make at home in minutes for a fraction of the cost. Find a student cookbook (or Google “student recipes”) for lots of easy, cheap and delicious ideas. Tip 8. Ask for help. Your university or college student services offices may have information on managing finances, finding on-campus work, or other helpful tips. Also, check with the staff of your bank or credit union – you may be eligible for reduced rates on loans, interest-free periods, or lower bank fees through a student banking package. Tagged as: budget, financial goals, students Share & Bookmark This Story! Bookmark on Delicious StumbleUpon Google BookmarksTip'd

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