How to live on a budget in college: 5 Practical Tips

May 20, 2022

How to live on a budget in college

Not everyone handles money well, and budgeting is often a nightmare for college students. Things aggravate when they have to stay within the projected limits, and there’s so much entertainment to spend cash on daily.

Apart from essentials like food, clothing, and books, most universities abound with endless opportunities for new experiences. Hence, you get tempted to splash out on trivial things and then ask for extra support from your parents. This makes college the perfect time to understand the importance of making sacrifices for success.

Learning to budget at university will boost your chances of becoming financially stable and independent once you graduate. These skills will help you develop a sound strategy and never find yourself strapped for cash.

Tips for budgeting in college

Budgeting in college is an excellent way to keep an eye on your finances and avoid overspending. Here are some tips to get you started.

Draft a Budget

If you want your cash allocation attempts to succeed, start from scratch. In short, plan the available funds to the slightest detail possible. First, ensure you calculate the incoming sources and expenses. Revenue might include assistance from your parents, loans, scholarships, or a part-time job.

Monthly costs cover bills, room and board, textbooks, transportation, equipment, sports, and entertainment. Often, you might need to project funds for an assignment service such as AssignmentBro when you find yourself overwhelmed with academic projects and exams. Or enlist help for a particular essay so that you have enough time to focus on studying and extra-curricular activities.

Once you make a spending plan, you must commit to sticking to it. Wherever you feel the urge to spend impulsively, double-check your allowance for that month. When your income reduces, consider canceling variable costs and settling fixed ones first.

Befriend Discounts and Coupons

While on campus, you’ll come across various leaflets with student discounts. Your junk mail will often inform you of sales and promotions, too. So, what you can do is clip the coupons and save them for later. Or sign up for cashback sites like Ibotta, Rakuten, and Honey. Though savings might seem negligible at the onset, they can make a difference.

Moreover, student discounts are not only for movie, museum, and concert tickets. Your student ID can help you slash the price of groceries, clothing, computer software, and streaming services. So, always ask the company if they offer student discounts before paying the sticker price.

Fall in love with cooking

Avoiding restaurants and takeaways is probably the most practical of our budget tips for college students. Undoubtedly, dining out can make a significant dent in your pocket. Hence, get your hands busy during the first term and make it a habit to prepare your meals from home.

Besides saving you money, learning to cook healthy food and drinks will help you lead a healthier life. Fast food can be costly and far less nutritious than a homemade smoothie and a packet of nuts or dried fruit.

Look for free options

Long-life friendships and unique experiences are the most memorable things you’ll take from college. And they are 100% free. Thus, avoid overspending on movies, theatres, snacks, and alcohol and check what’s trending on campus. Making notes about upcoming events in your calendar will help you keep better track of social activities.

Most universities provide free entertainment for their students. They organize film screenings or local band concerts. Other facilities give museum tickets for specific evenings or hold fairs and charity events.

Attending free happenings is a great way to interact with peers. On top of that, you’ll stay involved in current affairs without exhausting your budget on restaurants, bars, or pricey tickets.

Be aware of debt

Credit cards and student loans may seem like a perfect source of cash on short notice. Plus, many providers offer loyalty, reward, or cash back programs to holders of specific credit cards.

Yet, this money influx doesn’t come free of charge. If you can’t pay back what you borrow, you may end up in high-interest debt. Hence, the best approach would be to stay loan-free. In case you have to carry a balance, keep the credit utilization ratio low and pay more than the minimum amount.


Higher education is an expensive journey in life but a highly rewarding one. And the various costs you need to budget for at college can often stretch beyond your financial skills. So, if you don’t know where to begin, these money management tips for college students will give you a head start. Keep them in mind to ease the financial burden of your student budget.

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