Living Within Your Means at School

March 2022college girl with debit card

Between tuition, books, housing, and other daily expenses, college can take a major toll on your wallet. In order to pay for these necessities and still make the most of your time in school, follow these tips for living within your means.

Track expenses

According to Wright State University, it’s easier to decrease your spending rather than increase your income while in college. As such, Geoff Williams, writing for U.S. News & World Report, recommends writing down a full list of your monthly expenses. These may include housing, school supplies, food, transportation, and clothes, as well as more fun purchases like activities and streaming services.

Once you know what you spend your money on each month, you can then decide if there are any areas where you can cut back on. For example, Wright State University says buying a cup of coffee every day can quickly add up, so it may be worth it to make your own coffee instead. Or, when going to the grocery store, avoid buying unnecessary items by writing and following a shopping list.

Calculate your debt

To be financially responsible, it’s important to consider how much debt you will have upon graduating. If you’re borrowing student loans, you can add up their total amount for your entire college career to get a sense of your debt. If you want to reduce that amount, you can potentially do so by only borrowing enough to pay for your tuition and textbooks. You would then need to cover any other costs yourself. While this may not seem ideal, borrowing less now means owing less later. However, this isn’t a feasible solution for everyone.

Know your income

In order to pay for college without solely relying on student loans, Lauren Schwahn, a writer for NerdWallet, says you need to figure out who is covering your remaining college expenses. Family members may decide to pay for all or some of the costs. Another option is getting a job or receiving financial aid.

Set a budget

With all of the above information in mind, you can create a monthly budget. Latoya Irby, writing for The Balance, recommends figuring out your monthly income and then subtracting your expected expenses from it. If you discover that you spend more money than you make, take another look at your expenses and see if you can find ways to cut back.

Making and sticking to a realistic budget can help you live within your means. Plus, using tools like Waukesha State Bank’s Online Banking and Mobile Banking can help you monitor your accounts and track your spending so you stay within your budget. And the best part is, you can use them 24/7 from anywhere with internet access, no matter where you are or where you go to school!