Budgeting 101

Going to college is your gateway to the adult world, and with that comes learning to handle your money like an adult. Even if you aren’t completely self-sufficient as a student, your college years are an invaluable lesson in how to manage your money to set yourself up for financial success, and it all starts with knowing how to build a college budget.

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Step 1: Keep Track of Your Income

The first rule of successful money management is to keep your spending below your income. That being said, you have to know what your income actually is. Whether you have a regular part-time job, you have grants for your education, or you just pick up a few bucks here and there doing odd jobs when you have time, keep track of every penny you make before you spend it. Not only will that make it easier not to spend money you don’t have, over time it will also help you track your earnings and build up a picture of how your income changes while you’re in college. By the time you graduate, you’ll have a good sense of how much money you need to earn to maintain the lifestyle you like. That knowledge will be invaluable when you’re trying to choose a job.

Step 2: Record and Categorize Your Expenses

Certain things are essential, and you’ll have to accept spending money on them. Food, toiletries, and any bills you are responsible for while you’re in college are all things that have to be paid for. By keeping track of every time you spend money on an essential, you can work out the minimum you need to earn each month to stay afloat. Then there are things you enjoy, but can do without if you have to, such as new clothes, meals out, and entertainment like going to the movies. You shouldn’t feel guilty about spending money on indulgences, but you should keep track of your fun expenses separately so that you know how much money you need for your lifestyle. Keeping account of your essential and fun costs is one of the most important steps to budgeting for college. It shows you directly what you can sacrifice if you find yourself in a financial bind.

Step 3: Have a Plan and Stick to It

Tracking your income and expenses builds an overall financial picture of your time in college, and allows you to plan accordingly. If you know that you need to earn a certain amount to live comfortably, create a plan to find enough work to make that money. Or, if your studies become more intensive prevent you from taking on more work, create a step-by-step plan to live cheaply. Eliminate luxuries and put a certain amount of money away each month to help you survive. Your financial situation will change as you go through college, but starting each month or each semester with a plan you can follow means that you can spot in advance where you might run into trouble and adjust accordingly.

Step 4: Open a Checking and Savings Account

Herring Bank offers checking and saving accounts made for helping students accomplish their financial goals. Take advantage of Herring Bank’s eChecking account with low fees perfect for college students. You can also open a Herring Bank savings account to help you put more money away. The more you put away as a student, the less debt you’ll have when you graduate. At many colleges, a student ID is already tied to a Herring Bank eChecking account in what’s called the College Green Accounts program. This provides a way for many students receive their financial aid money easily and efficiently. If you attend a college that utilizes Herring Bank’s CGA program, be sure you’re taking full advantage of the account and other resources provided to you. If you have questions about CGA or any other aspect of your financial health as a student, please call (855) 352-3772. A Herring Bank representative would be happy to help you!

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