A well-organized budget is a very useful tool to balance income and expenses. As far as college students are concerned, this budget should cover several expenses and potential sources of income, which are special to them. If you want to prevent mishaps like overdrawn bank accounts and unnecessary credit card use later in your college life, you had better take the time to work out a budget before your academic year starts.
1. To evaluate your expenses.
When you are getting prepared for a realistic budget, you had better evaluate your expenses considerately. Your expenses should cover the price of food, rent, books, school supplies, clothing and personal needs and so on. Furthermore, you should also remember those utilities and other bills like cable, Internet and phone, because you would be responsible for paying such things, if you are staying in an apartment. For a good budget, you should include the cost of your daily essentials such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste in addition to the expenses related with your life at the apartment such as toilet paper, napkins and cleaning supplies. In order to avoid overspending your budget, you should estimate on the high end for these kinds of expenses.
2. To try available funds.
As college students, you should have several types of funding available for use; each could cover different kinds of expenses. Because it is unnecessary to pay back scholarships and financial aid, it is a very good start with your funding. However, you should be sure about the way that such funding could be used for when you apply for these types of funds. And you should be certain whether they would be applied directly to your tuition costs or provided to you to cover other expenses, such as books. In addition to scholarships and financial aid, you could also apply for student loans, which could be used to cover student expenses. Generally speaking, such loans could be spent at your discretion, but you would pay them back with interest, so you should spend them carefully and wisely. Full or part jobs could be another source of income, but it would be decided by your class schedule and the time that are available to you.
3. To set up goals.
If you intend to keep your spending and saving activities on track, you should set a few concrete goals for yourself. If you want to save some money to buy a new car or computer or go for a spring break vacation, this goal would be helpful to offer added motivation so as to prevent you from spending on frivolous items such as fast food, video games and other unnecessary items. When you set a goal, first you had better calculate the cost of this goal and set a date for realizing it, then divide the cost of the goal in the course of the months in between today and the chosen date to make sure how much you need to put aside each week or month.
4. To keep everything on track.
As soon as you have created a budget with your estimated expenses and income, you should save all necessary information in a spreadsheet or worksheet on your computer, so you could get to it easily and look it over at a glance. If you want to ensure whether you are staying on track, you had better refer back to your budget on a regular basis. With the programs like Excel, you could put together complex interactive spreadsheets into which you could put the data about your earnings and expenditures every week into your computer and the program is able to instantly calculate how close you are to your projected budget.