College Budgeting 101

How to NOT Die of Hunger on Campus

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With the excitement fairy doing backflips in your tummy as you prepare to go off to college, you are probably thinking about all the fun you are going to have away from home. With the opportunity to meet new people and experience new things, college seems like the ultimate “leave-home-and-be-free” getaway. But, and there’s a big BUT, how do you fully enjoy all the facets of a true college adventure if you are, well, BROKE. No need to worry, we have some tips for you:

1. It’s OK to skip an event … or two

We all know you would want to attend every event on campus, and depending on the college there might be many to attend, but do you have to though? Plan your events, not only around your class schedule, but also around your budget. It might be a bit torturous being a stone’s throw away from a popping party and not being able to attend, but in addition to your degree, college is also supposed to teach you discipline, right?

2. Learn to cook - Fast food joints are not your friends

Fast food is definitely the most convenient way to access food as a student but it is not the best idea, especially on a budget. The cost of fast food adds up pretty quickly, especially when it is your main or only source of food. It might be cheaper if you buy raw foods and prepare it. Not only will it be cheaper overall, it will also ensure that you have enough meals throughout the day as you now have the option of taking leftovers to school for lunch the next day.

3. Enjoy a good potluck

In addition to learning to cook, a potluck is the next best thing to ensure you have a enough food to eat. Arrange with your friends to put resources and food together to create a full meal. You will be surprised by the amount of food you will be able to salvage this way. Plus, there is always leftovers (revert to point 3).

4. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it

Anybody who has been through college on a budget will tell you, college is for necessities only. We all want to look our best and have nice things, it is human nature after all but the reality is it does not always work out that way in college. For a college student on a budget, if it is not absolutely necessary to your survival, you do not need to spend money on it. A lot of times, necessities will come down to five solid colour tops that can be paired with every jeans or skirt, two books for every course, a multifunction handbag, toiletries and food - everything else is optional.

5. Budgeting is more than just a hobby

It might not be much but you still have to spend it wisely - hence the need for a budget. Making the best use of the little you have is the key to surviving the school year. Ensure you know how much is needed to meet your basic necessities so you can see what you have left for...well...extracurricular activities.

6. Get a roommate - They can become your best friends or your worse enemy, either way they can help you cut cost

Living on your own with your own space is the ideal life, but it is not always what we can afford. Getting a roommate means sharing your space and oftentimes your privacy with someone else, but it also mean sharing the cost of the apartment, flat or dorm room. This might seem insignificant now, but it also means sharing the housework duties. And you’ll never know, you could end up being very good lifelong friends.

7. Part - time jobs save lives

It would be great if you could just go to classes, have fun with friends and sleep, but college life is not always like that and sometimes a part time job is what you need to balance your budget. We all know jobs are scarce but that is no reason to lose hope now, is it? Try to find employment on campus first such as in libraries, department offices, students’ union etc. This will also add experience to your otherwise empty resume.

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