8 steps to manage your money in college
Life on a college budget
Talk about a budget with your parents
Ask your parents about how financially involved they plan to be while you're in college. For example, will they cover some of your school expenses, such as books, housing, or meals? Or will you be 100% responsible for paying your own way?
Add up all your sources of income
- Paychecks from full-time or part-time jobs
- Side income, such as babysitting or mowing lawns
- Scholarships and grants
- College savings plan withdrawals
- Money from your parents
Add up all your expenses
- Tuition (if you're responsible for paying it)
- Books and other school supplies
- Transportation expenses (gas money, bus fare, or Uber rides)
- Cell phone
- Utilities (power, water, etc.)
- Entertainment (movies, meals, and drinks out)
Get cash flow positive
Now subtract your expenses from your income. If the number is positive, congratulations!
- If you end up with a negative number, that just means you'll need to make a few adjustments, such as:
- Making coffee in your dorm instead of buying it at a coffee shop
- Getting a cheaper cell phone plan
- Taking on an additional job on campus, such as a tutor or assistant
Make a plan for any "remaining" money
- 50% of your income goes toward basic living expenses and essentials
- 30% of your income goes toward flexible spending (the fun stuff)
- 20% of your income goes toward savings, investing, and paying off debt
- Once you're earning more than you spend, make a plan for the money you have left over at the end of each month. Start by saving a few dollars. Then use any remaining money for fun stuff like going to the movies and eating out.
Open a savings account
Start setting aside at least a few dollars each month into a savings account. This emergency fund provides a safety net in case any unexpected expenses come up.
Apply for a credit card
It's important to establish good credit while you're young, because you'll need a good credit history after college to do things like rent an apartment and finance a car.
Look for a credit card with little to no fees and a low limit. Just don't spend beyond your budget! Your goal should be to pay off your credit card balance in full each month.
Stick to your budget
Once you've done all the work to create a budget, be sure you stick to your plan and periodically adjust it if necessary.
To learn more about managing your finances while in college, visit www.synovus.com/learn/college.