Tips For Student Budgeting

Monday, August 2, 2021

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The largest college or university expense, aside from tuition, is rent. Housing is a required cost for international students, when attending a school with a far commute from home, or if moving to another state/province.


Rental rates may differ drastically from typical amounts in the student’s hometown. Before committing to a lease, students should always do research and compare the available housing options within the school’s community.


Moving out for the first time, or in general, can be intimidating and costly. It may be difficult to find that impeccable place at an ideal price, preferred location, or with perfect furnishings, amenities, and utilities included. In addition to the rental rate, there are other living expenses to consider such as groceries, cleaning supplies, transportation, personal hygiene costs and social activities.


A budget is a useful tool when estimating income versus expenditures, and is highly recommended to help stay organized and decrease stress throughout the school year. Budgets can assist in reducing excessive or unnecessary spending, when followed. 


There are many budgeting templates online that can be used to enter income/expense amounts and determine a student’s disposable cash after paying bills on a monthly basis. Also, here are some useful tips to help get the most out of each dollar being spent.


  • Utilities – Especially when not included in the rental rate, carefully watch utility consumption such as water, hydro/electricity, heat/air-conditioning, Internet usage and more.
  • Groceries – Prepare a shopping list, read weekly grocery store flyers to see what’s on sale, and stick to the list.
  • Other Necessities – Shop smart and compare your options for expenses such as Internet, cable TV or Netflix, cell phone plans, car/rental insurance, school supplies, etc.
  • Personal Hygiene – Buy products on sale and search for deals, such as junior hair stylists in the community who don’t charge regular salon rates.
  • Social Spending – Substitute an expensive night out on the town for an evening in with friends. Attend free events put on for students by the college or university. Try to reduce or eliminate expensive habits.
  • Don’t Buy on Impulse - Often impulse purchases are for goods and services that are not necessarily needed or planned for in the budget. Also, better prices can often be found elsewhere, when purchases are researched and planned ahead.


Here are some other tips to increase income and add cash to the budget.


  • Get a part-time job in the community or on campus.
  • Sell unneeded possessions, especially if not using them when away at school.


Effectively spending and saving money is a life strategy that many students continually strive to accomplish their entire lives. To be successful, it’s recommended to start budgeting and mindful spending habits early as a student and establish the habit for life.


SEE ALSO:  Balancing the Budget: Off-Campus Student Housing

The Team