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04/12/2008

Tips for Budgeting for College Students

While college is one of the most exciting times in a young person's life, it can also be one of the most financially frustrating times. This is because many young adults enter college without an understanding of how to budget their money. Not to worry, help is here. By following several simple tips, you can learn to budget your money and educate yourself in lifelong money management.

The first step is learning how to manage your money. This means creating a budget and following it. First, you will need to sit down and figure out how much money you have available to spend each week. Once you've determined this number, then you will need to figure out how much money is required for things such as food, books, entertainment and other daily living expenses. It's important to figure out where you can cut some of your expenses in order to purchase the things that you really need. This means that if you have to buy your books next week, you probably should hold off on spending that extra money while out with friends at the bar one night.

There are other ways to make sure that you save money while in college. One of the ways is by looking for other ways to purchase your books other than the college book store. A bit of online research at sites such as at places like www.half.com and www.amazon.commay help you save as much as 50% on textbook purchases.

Another savings strategy when it comes to textbook purchases is to seek out friends who have already taken the class. Many times, students don't want textbooks once they are done with them. They end up putting them in the trash, selling back to the bookstore for way less then the paid for it and even donating them. Their unwanted books are exactly what you need. Offer to pay a higher price for them than the bookstore would buy them back for, but lower than the cost of a used book at the same store. Your friend will jump at the chance to make the extra cash. Many colleges even have classified ads or places where students can advertise books for sale. Just make sure that before you purchase a used book that it is acceptable for the class. Many times the editions of the books change so you might want to check with the professor if an earlier edition is okay to use.

Another way to be able to stick to your budget is with food purchases. If you are not on a meal plan that is part of your room and board, purchasing food can take a big chunk out of your budget. This however does not have to be the case. There are ways that you can save a lot of money on your food budget. First of all, you definitely want to avoid eating out if you can as this will save you a lot of money. Some options if you do eat out share a meal or take the leftovers. A lot of times, the meal that you choose is so large that you don't eat the whole thing. If you consider sharing the meal you can cut the cost of your meal in half. If you don't share it, make sure to take it home for leftovers the next day. Ultimately though, purchasing your own food and cooking it yourself will save you more than you think.

Entertainment in college is probably the biggest money pit. For most, if not all, college students going out and socializing is a big important part of campus life. This can mean going out with friends or a date two to four times a week. This is quite costly. One of the biggest ways to cut down on entertainment costs is by taking advantage of student discounts. Many restaurants and hangouts around college campuses realize that students are often short on cash and offer discounts for frequenting their establishments.

You can live worry-free (economically anyways) if you take the time to plan a college-tailored budget and learn how to manage it so that you don't overspend.

Julianne Alzamora has 7 years of experience as a freelance writer. Her articles can be seen in several financial websites about investing, investment strategy, personal finance and topics on real estate.





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