Sticking to a Budget
It’s not just tuition that will cost you money in college — you also have to take into account living expenses. For most students, college is the first time you will tackle “adult” bills like rent, electricity and car loans on your own.
College can be a rude awakening for some — even though your parents pay for room and board, the traditional term for the cost of housing and a meal plan at college, they typically won’t have tons of extra cash to send you for fun money. In the U.S. during the 2016-2017 school year, room and board ran an average of $10,440 at public universities and $11,890 at private universities.
One way to save yourself and your parents some money is by picking an affordable place to live. Dorm rooms may not be as fun, and are sometimes more expensive than apartments, but offer vast security options and make it easy to get to class. An off-campus apartment may seem like it’s less expensive, but don’t forget to tack on extra costs for parking, groceries and other bills like gas and water.
This is where making a budget comes in handy. By keeping a budget, or list of income and expenses, you can estimate how much money you’ll need each month to keep the lights on and how much extra you’ll have to spend on the fun stuff. Your fixed expenses that stay the same each month, like rent, Netflix subscriptions and fraternity dues, and flexible expenses that can vary from month to month, like electricity bills and groceries, all need to be accounted for in the budget. An allowance from your parents, paychecks from your part-time job or the few dollars you earned from your garage sale are all sources of income.
Making a budget is an excellent way to practice your financial literacy. It will help you set and attain your goals, both academically and financially, and will be a skill you’ll use for the rest of your life.
“Room and board” is the traditional term for the cost of housing and a meal plan at college. In the U.S., room and board will run an average of $8,887 at public universities and $10,089 at private universities.