It is never easy not to have enough money when you need it the most. Students are always on a tight budget and struggle at the end of the month. Ideally, students should live rent-free when possible. But how do they get money for their other expenses?
How Should Students Pay for Monthly Expenses
When you are a student, one of the biggest challenges is how to make ends meet. There are bills to pay, groceries to buy, and rent to cover. But when you are on a tight budget, it can feel impossible to meet all your expenses.
Here are some tips for how to pay for monthly expenses as a student:
- Create a budget: You need to know how much money you have coming in each month before figuring out how much money you need for expenses. If you don’t know how much money is coming in, then it’s hard to figure out how much goes where.
Create a budget that outlines your expected income sources and expenses and keep track of them throughout the month.
- Create an emergency fund: An emergency fund is essential for college students because there will always be unexpected costs, such as car repairs or medical bills. Set aside at least $500 so that if something goes wrong, you are covered until payday or until your next scholarship check comes in.
- Set up an automatic transfer: Set up an automatic transfer from your bank account into your savings account to build up an emergency fund. This will help ensure that you never have to worry about not having money for rent or utilities because of an accidental overdraft fee.
Ensure all your utility bills and insurance policies are set up with automatic payments. They’re paid off automatically each month on time without any hassle on your part — sit back and relax once the bill is due!
Common Budgeting Tips for Students
Budgeting is a skill that will serve you well in life. Whether you’re living on your own for the first time or want to tighten up your spending, these budgeting tips for students can help you get started:
1. Don’t Spend More than You Earn
Make a list of all your income. Include sources such as student loans and grants, scholarships, part-time jobs, and any other money that comes into your account.
Such will help you see how much money is coming in each month and what expenses you need to cover. If you make $200 per week and spend $300, you’re in trouble.
Try to get into the habit of tracking your expenses to know where your money is going. Try using Mint.com or another free online tool to help with this step.
2. Make a List of Priorities and Stick to Them
If there’s an emergency, like replacing a broken computer or printer, then use emergency funds (if possible) rather than going into debt over small things like food or clothes.
Ensure that everything on your list is something you need right now, not something that could wait until next semester/year.
Get rid of unnecessary subscriptions/memberships/etc. Do you have cable TV? Do you need it? Can you get by without it? Can you cut back on subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify)? If not, cancel them!
3. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Student discounts are one of the best ways to save money, especially if you’re a college student.
If possible, buy your textbooks from a university bookstore and use your student ID to get the discount.
You can do the same with many other services and products, such as hotels and car rentals. Check Groupon or Living Social for deals on sporting events, concerts, and amusement parks.
4. Buy Generic Instead of Name Brands
Generic versions of items like food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies can be much cheaper than their brand-name counterparts.
A lot of times, they even taste precisely the same! Please don’t waste money on name brands unless necessary (and even then, there might be cheaper options).
5. Track Your Spending Habits
You might think it’s unnecessary to track every penny that goes out of your wallet each day, but doing so will help both teach you how much money is coming in and going out of your pocket, which is essential information for budgeting purposes.
6. Make a Budget before Buying Anything New
Before you spend any money on new clothes, shoes, or electronics, ask yourself if you need them or if they will add clutter to your home.
It may seem like an obvious tip, but so many people fall into this trap when shopping! If you want something new, make sure it fits into your budget first to avoid blowing all your savings.
7. Be Mindful of Credit Card Debt
Credit cards can be helpful when you need to make a large purchase or have an emergency, but they have a high-interest rate and can lead to debt if you are not careful.
If you choose to use a credit card, make sure you keep track of your expenses to don’t spend more than you can afford.
8. Avoid Student Loans
Student loans are often the only way for students to finance their education. But, like any other type of debt, student loans can get you into financial trouble if you don’t manage them properly.
The best way to avoid student loan problems is to avoid taking on any debt. If you do need a student loan, here are some tips on how to manage it:
- Stay within your budget
- Pay more than the minimum payment
- Stay in contact with your lender
How to Raise Part-time Income as a Student
You may already be holding down a part-time job to support yourself as a student. But if you want to earn more money on the side, there are plenty of ways to do it.
Here are some ideas:
1. Start your own business
If you have an idea for a business and aren’t sure where to start, try using a business incubator. These organizations provide you with office space and mentoring while helping you develop your idea into an honest company.
They also offer training courses and financial help. For example, The Icehouse in Burlington, VT, offers free training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and provides low-cost office space for startups at $50 per month.
2. Teach Classes or Tutoring Services
If you excel at math or science, consider teaching lessons in those subjects either online or in-person to local students or other adults interested in learning more about them.
You can also tutor people one-on-one over Skype or Google Hangouts if you have experience with those programs already; many students need help with algebra or calculus because they’re struggling in school and need extra help outside of class hours.
3. Sell stuff on eBay
If you have any unwanted items lying around the house, sell them on eBay! This is a great way to make some extra money as it doesn’t require any work.
You need to find a buyer and send them their item. If you don’t know how to do this, read our article on selling items online.
4. Become an Uber driver
Uber is one of the most popular apps in the world right now, and there are thousands of people who drive for them every day to earn some extra cash.
If you have your car (or can borrow one), this could be perfect for you! It does take some training, but once you have completed it, it is pretty straightforward from there on out (and so much fun!).
Joseph is a freelance journalist and a part-time writer with a particular interest in the gig economy. He writes about schooling, college life, and changing trends in education. When not writing, Joseph is hiking or playing chess.