Budgeting 101

Setting up your first budget now that you’re away at school

College is where you set yourself up for success in the real world, and a big part of that success is going to involve managing your money effectively. Financial stability is essential if you want to reach your goals. It also keeps you sane and helps you avoid stress and stress-related health problems. So you want to start doing things in college that help you create a financially stable world now.

The first step involves budgeting. You can learn the basics in Budgeting Made Easy, but as a student you have some unique concerns that you only face while you’re in school. This section covers those concerns so you can make an effective budget that works for your current lifestyle.

Assessing Your Monthly Income

As a student, you can have income sources that you won’t have at any other time in your life – namely, parental support and financial aid. Whether your parents are supporting you partially or completely, it’s a good idea to set how much money you have available every month.

Even if your parents just give you money when you ask, work backwards and take an average of your monthly expenses to see how much you really need. Setting a specific dollar amount will help keep your own spending in check, as well as help your parents balance their budget.

Splitting & Sharing Expenses

Another challenge in budgeting at school is that you may not be fully responsible for paying certain expenses. Your parents may be covering certain costs or paying some of your bills. You can also be splitting bills and expenses with roommates.

For this kind of sharing, your monthly expenses should be two numbers:

  1. Total monthly expenses
  2. Monthly expenses you are responsible for paying on your own

Noting both of these numbers is important for balancing your budget now. It can also help in estimating what you’ll need to earn when you finally get out on your own.

Essential Tips for Your Time at School

The following tips can help you avoid financial issues while you’re away at school:

Transitioning Your Finances After Graduation

After a few years at school using the tips above, you should have a pretty good handle on the basics of budgeting. The next step is to successfully transition your budget and finances for your life after school.

Here are some things to watch for once you graduate:

Additional Resources

The information above summarizes what you need to know, but you can get the full story with a free download of Budgeting 101: Your Money Guide for Getting through School. And remember, if you get into trouble at any point or just have questions, we’re here to help. Call Consolidated Credit at or ask for help online with a request for a free Debt & Budget Analysis.

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