College Budgeting

By Kyra Washington


College is expensive, but many students do not account for how much money is spent outside of tuition. By planning accordingly, you can learn to budget properly. In the article titled, “Amount of Spending Money a College Student Needs”, Karen Frazier creates a sample budget to show some items college students spend money on with an estimate of how much they spend. These items include clothes, entertainment, food, gas and car insurance—for those who bring their vehicles to campus—phone bills, textbooks and school supplies, electronics, and transportation to and from home throughout the semester. While everyone has different spending habits, Frazier estimated that a more conservative student spends up to $8,500 a year. A student who’s spending is on the more expensive side can spend up to $21,050 a year.


Frazier also points out that by working either on or off campus, the average student is able to make about $195 a week, or if working part time year around, about $10,000. In the 2016 College and Personal Finance Study by Dave Ruthmanner, it was reported that 43% of students don’t track their spending, and 58% said they aren’t saving each month. There are plenty of resources available to help students create a budget, such as CollegeBudgetBuilder.org. This resource provides a free online tool to help college students create and save their own budget. Christi Wright, a peer financial mentor at DePaul University, gave a few tips on budgeting and saving. Mint is one budgeting app she keeps on her smartphone. This app is connected to her bank and stock accounts so she can keep up with her total assets. On Mint, you are able to pick your budget, and the app tells you if you are on track, over or under for that budget category. As encouragement for others to save, Wright points out, “the average American does not have 6 months of emergency funds saved up, which leads to financial stress and can even affect their health, especially if and when an emergency does come up and they do not have enough money.”


Keelah Washington, a graduate student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has experienced some financial gains and losses since she started college. Washington was able to take advantage of quite a few job opportunities on campus, both paid and unpaid. While she received a lot of different jobs offers, she said that finding a job that works for you is important. “Make sure it leaves time for you to get some studying done. Library jobs are usually great or any desk management positions since they give you some down time to work on homework and still get paid for it.” Washington also pointed out that “on campus jobs also help you get funds from FAFSA, and they can base your work schedule on your class schedule, midterms, and finals because they make academic success a top priority.”

©2020 by On the Money Magazine Online

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