It’s not easy to keep track of your money in college. A 2019 survey by AIG Retirement Services and EVERFI found that 52% of college students were at least a little worried about having enough money to last the semester. As a college student, you’ll have a lot of new responsibilities (and freedom! ), but you’ll also need to keep track of your money, especially if the money you spend is from scholarships. Scholarships can help you pay for school without adding to the amount of debt you already have. Here’s what you need to know to keep and make the most of every dollar you win in the form of scholarship money.
1. Before You Go To College, Make A Realistic Budget
Once you start college, making a budget will be the last thing on your mind. So do it before the school year starts once you announce the scholarship money. Before you become a college student, it’s hard to know how much things will cost and how you’ll spend your money. But do your best to estimate (using the college’s Cost of Attendance as a guide) and change your budget after your first month on campus.
You could use an Excel spreadsheet, a free budgeting app, or a template. You should have the incoming money and your spending needs in your budget. We can customize this template according to your needs and if you don’t know where to start, writing it down is the first and the best idea to get started.
Make sure to think of extras like going out to eat, going to the movies or a concert, traveling, playing games, giving gifts, etc., while making a budget. These factors can help you in spending your scholarship money wisely.
2. Budget For Saving, Splurges, And Surprises
Chances arise, and emergencies happen, so put some of your scholarship money in your budget. Want to go somewhere during spring break? Add a line item for “savings” to your budget and figure out how much you need to save each month to reach your goal.
Include some cash in your budget so you can occasionally spend more on something you like. So, you’ll be more likely to stick to your budget and not buy things on the spot with your credit card.
3. Watch What You Spend
When you get to college, write down everything you spend money on for a month. A mobile app makes this easier, but you can also save receipts. Once you know where your money is going, you can change your budget. Another thing to watch out for is online spending. With online shopping the go-to medium for college students looking to save on time, some places can have price hikes.
You can avoid situations like this by using a VPN like VeePN, which can hide you online and surf safely without giving away your location, which can impact heavily on the prices online. Another added factor of using a VPN like VeePN is saving yourself from DDoS attacks and data privacy. All these benefits of VeePN can save you from the adverse effects of online shopping.
4. Be Careful With Credit Cards
Use only one credit card with a low limit, and only charge things you buy often and have already planned for.
You won’t have to worry about fees and high-interest debt if you pay your bill on time and in full every month. After all, the scholarship money is set, and it’s easier to know what will come in every month.
5. Take A Lot Of Look At Your Budget
Some people who know about money say you should compare your spending to your weekly budget. You’ll have a lot to do, but find a way to review your budget regularly. Set a reminder in your calendar or take time before or after a regular activity, like a weekly study group or yoga class, that you never miss. It’s important to stay on top of your budget with your scholarship money.
Look at the money you have to spend and what you can spend for the week. If you’re running out of money to spend, you’ll have to cut back on something.
The easiest place to start is with your extra spending, but you might also find ways to cut back on your necessary spending, like switching to a cheaper meal plan or renting books instead of buying them.
6. Set Up Direct Deposit
Set up three bank accounts to keep track of your money: one for bills, one for spending, and one for saving. Put the money you’ve set aside for each category into these accounts automatically. This will make it less likely to dip into your savings or spend money meant for bills. When your checking account runs out of money, that’s it. No more pizza runs at midnight for you!
Budgeting doesn’t have to ruin your college experience. Living within your means can make you feel good, lower stress, and set you up for a good financial future. The best part is that you’ll be able to enjoy your college memories even more, knowing that you can pay for them.