How To: Budget During College

Young woman with a piggy bank

Your college memories will be priceless. Everything else, though, will cost you money. Don’t worry. All you need is to set up a clear budget to make sure you reach graduation day (with some extra cash in your pockets).



Figure out the money you’ll have. This includes student loans, savings, job income, and allowance.



Make a list of what you'll need. Think of:

  • Tuition
  • Rent or dorm cost
  • Utilities (internet, AC, electricity)
  • Textbooks
  • Food (groceries or meal plan)
  • Entertainment (sports games, concerts, etc.)
  • Car and gas
  • Clothes
  • Credit card payments
  • Savings (decide on a percentage of your paycheck)
  • Hygiene products
  • Gifts and charity



Put an estimated cost per month next to each of these. Then, add it up as a monthly expense. Make sure to label each as a fixed expense or a variable expense.

  • Fixed expenses always stay the same (i.e. rent, car payments).
  • Variable expenses differ monthly (i.e. food, entertainment, gasoline).



See how much you are spending. If you’re making more than you spend, cut back on variable expenses.



Set a goal to put aside a certain percentage of your paycheck towards savings. Maybe start off at 1%, and see if you can increase that goal every six months.



Consistently check your budget to make sure you’re on track.


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