Budgeting 101

By KASEN BIEN

Another year of school and everything is the same…same classroom, same professors, same classmates, except for one thing. Your pants feel much, much lighter don’t they? One thing is for certain, students pay a ridiculous amount of money for their education these days—and it’s getting worse. Tuition is increasing annually at an alarming rate. University of California schools increased tuition by 40-43% from 2009-2011. A 4.3% increase occurred from 2011-2012 alone. On top of the added tuition, there are extra expenses for books, school supplies, lab fees, field trips, etc. to keep in mind. Not to mention, room and board as well– and those are just the necessities. So now what? Where is there even room in the budget to have some fun?

College is a beautiful experience, and one should never forget that. Students learn much about themselves and the world around them. Being restricted financially hinders that college experience. Budgeting is one of the most important life lessons that we should all be familiar with. This doesn’t mean that it is easy though. There is no clear formula to follow when budgeting, since everyone is different and some aspects are more important to some than others. I am going to diagram how I survived debt free, and lend some helpful tips that will save money in the long run.

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First things first; I found out how much money I had altogether. From there I deducted my mandatory monthly payments. I deducted my rent, utilities (water, garbage), semester/quarterly cost of school, cell phone payments, and gas and electricity payments. From there I thought about what is less important, yet necessary to my survival – gas/transportation and food. The entertainment budget comes last.

Gas is expensive; everyone knows that. This tip may seem like a no brainer but carpool as much as possible. Public transportation is your friend, use it! It isn’t as luxurious or convenient as a car but it will save money so you can spend it elsewhere.

Avoid eating out. This is very important! This is a mistake that I, and many of my friends, made throughout our freshman year. Even if you are treating yourself to McDonalds often, it will add up. Try your best to eat at home and prepare your meals ahead of time. Now for the entertainment budget, cable may be out of the question. Netflix and Hulu Plus are cheaper alternatives. You still need internet for those two services, but cable companies will be able to hook up internet separately. Campus libraries or public libraries should also provide you with internet and a printer for school.

Though these tips seem like no-brainers, incorporating them into routine practices is something that is rather difficult especially when you are not used to living this way. Leaving the nest to fly on your own is a freeing experience, but it comes with a price. Always remember not to assume you have x money available to spend, always know how much. Do the math. If you can, keep a rainy day fund saved up and try not to ever draw from it. Have a great school year and remember to always enjoy it!

*Disclaimer: The views represented here are the opinions of the individual blog author and do not represent the views of Oikocredit USA. 

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