Budgeting for College

Hello all! I hope you haven't missed me too much as I haven't been around much this past week (yay for colds!) But today I back, feeling better, and ready to share my tips on budgeting for college with you!

To start off with I am going to explain my expenses and what I pay for verses what I do not pay for. 

I pay for: 
- meals
- gas
- books
- other class materials
- hygiene items 
- club dues
- any other fun activities
- any other wanted items

I do not pay for: 
- tuition (though I do have loans)
- rent
- cable/internet/utilities (covered in my rent)
- phone bill
- car insurance

I have it pretty good with what I do and do not pay for but it is still essential for me to budget well to be able to afford to eat and do fun things. 

Also, I currently do not have a job so my income level is very low and comes solely from blogging, campus rep programs, and a few babysitting jobs here and there. I am hoping I can pick up an on campus job sometime soon to be able save more money for those loans mentioned above!

Each semester my biggest expense is my books and class supplies. It cost about $400 this semester to get all the required books and supplies. I make sure to set aside about $500 each semester just for these purchases. I also make sure to sell back any books that I no longer need at the end of each semester. This helps me to make back at least $100 to spend on the next semesters books. 

My second biggest expense is food. I opted out of getting a campus meal plan due to their high price and decided to make use of my kitchen. I limit myself to eating out once per week so I am cooking 20 of my 21 meals a week. Each trip I make to the grocery store, I try to stay under $50 and to buy enough food for 2 weeks. I usually spend about $125 on food a month. I have shared more tips for buying groceries in college here!

My third biggest expense is gas. I recently was gifted a new car (thanks daddy) that gets much better gas mileage than the truck I had (went from 13 mpg to 32 mpg) so I spend a whole lot less on gas than I did last year. I also transferred to a college closer to home so my gas expense to go home has decreased significantly. To save even more on gas, I use university transportation to get to class or walk to places that are not far from my apartment. However, I like to travel and usually make one or two longer trips each month so even with these changes I still spend about $50 to $75 on gas each month. 

My other expenses include hygiene items which I spend about $30 on per month, fun activities which I try to keep around $30, and wanted items (ie: new clothes) which I try to keep around $30 a month. 

If you total my expenses I am spending about $300 a month where as I am making about $350 a month. I try to put at least $10 a week into sayings as well to help with those future loans that will come back into my life soon. Make sure that your expenses always fall under your income, otherwise you'll be in trouble!

The number one thing I do is track my spending. I repeat, I track my spending. Every single thing that I purchase I write down in order of purchase in a notebook. I include the date of purchase, item purchased, cost or purchase, and what method I used to purchase it. This helps me keep track of all my expenses so at the end of the month I am not wondering why I am coming up $50 short. When you write down every single thing you purchase, you tend to purchase less because it becomes tedious to log it and you start thinking that maybe the $.99 drink isn't worth it. 

Secondly, to keep my budget in check, I use coupons whenever possible. I may eat out once a week, but I will more than likely be that girl using a coupon to eat for half price. Also, many hygiene products such as shampoo and conditioner can be purchased for less with a coupon. I used to be embarrassed to use coupons but now it's second nature to me and I have no shame in it. (I have been known to pick up Walmart receipts off the ground to use for My Savings Catcher...)

My biggest thing issue with my current college budget is that I am not putting enough into my savings account so I am always looking for ways to cut back! How do you budget for college? Also, check back tomorrow for my tips to save money on groceries!


  1. food is my biggest expense hahaa! text books will beat them for number one on my list
    great post

    1. Thanks Orly! Food is way too expensive, I agree! lol

  2. Budgeting has always been the hardest thing for me. I was so bad about it in college, so kudos to you for being able to budget correctly. I still struggle with it now, but luckily my boyfriend and I live together, cause he keeps me on track.

  3. Wow you seem so organized! I want to get better at budgeting and currently use the Mint app, but I forget/get lazy to log in my cash purchases on there too! I also don't check it as often as I used to :P I would love to get to where you are though. Please keep posting these tips because I'll be keeping tabs on them!

    1. I tried the Mint app but I forget to check it and log purchases in it! My notebook works better for me.

  4. I am totally pinning this! It's so hard to correctly budget out my life with working min wage and not many hours due to class. >_<

    1. Exactly! I can't find a job that fits in with my hectic class schedule!