Click below for the free budget template that matches your lifestyle
College textbooks, a night out with buddies, furnishing your apartment - the expenses during your college years can quickly and easily burn a hole through your bank account in no time if you don't have a detailed college budget set up. No one enjoys counting pennies and controlling spending, but budgeting is a necessary part of financial health. Your college years in particular are the perfect time to learn how to budget properly before real adult life kicks in, and you're stuck with a mortgage and school tuition for your own kids.
Don't think you need to maintain a budget? Here are some reasons why it's important to have one set up now, using a college budget template, before you head off for your first year of college.
Mom and Dad Aren't Constantly Watching Over Your Shoulder
While your parents may have had a dominant handle over your expenditures while you were living at home, you don't have this type of supervision when you're off on your own. Many times this financial freedom can get the best of college students, who end up finding themselves tempted by the myriad of items that are available to buy. Without mom or dad there to say "no," you could find yourself with mounting debt. Having a budget is a responsible step towards adulthood and maturity that helps you take control of your spending.
Your Funds Are Probably Limited in College
Most college kids don't exactly have a ton of capital to work with, which makes the art of budgeting even more crucial. No matter where the funds are coming from - mom and dad, a part-time job, or even a scholarship or award - you'll most likely have to be savvy and learn how to stretch your dollar. Money has a tendency to be spent on 'wants' rather than 'needs' when no budget exists. Having a budget allows you to see if whatever money is coming in is adequately covering your expenses, or if you have to look for more ways to supplement your income, or lower your spending if possible.
Managing Your Money
Having a budget on a detailed spreadsheet with the help of a college budget template allows you to better control your money. It will show you where your money needs to go, including your savings, expenses, and extra spending money. This tool will also provide you with a reference to identify what your financial position is at the end of each month. For instance, if you've allotted $100 to be spent on entertainment, but notice that all the receipts you've kept that month total $150, you known you need to cut back $50 from your entertainment expenditures.
Taking Care of Your Financial Future
It's most likely a challenge to look beyond your next frat party or college exam, but all the financial moves you make now will have a significant impact on your financial future. If you continue to mount your debt now, it will only be harder to climb out of outstanding loans later on. With a budget in place, you can keep tabs on your money and build a savings account, which can prove to be very useful if you don't land your dream job immediately after graduating.
What Should You Include in Your Budget?
A budget can be as detailed as it needs to be for you. When it comes to your expenditures, don't leave anything out. Include items such as textbooks, tuition, student loans, transportation, rent, groceries, entertainment, and other miscellaneous items. When it comes to your income, make sure to include anything on top of your part-time job that may bring money in, including awards, allowance from parents, and so forth. At the end of the month, compare the difference between the two, which will tell you whether your income covers your expenses, or whether you're ending up in the red.
Click here to download the XLS file college budget template.xls.
Creating a budget using a college budget template can be your saving grace when it comes to managing your money throughout your college years. One great place online to find fantastic college budget templates is at Mint.com, which helps you get a grasp of your finances. Not only does this site take care of all the organizing and categorizing of your expenses for you, it's also FREE! Visit Mint.com today to take advantage of the easiest budgeting solution around!