College is a great time to learn to budget. In fact, this is one of the skills that it is imperative to master for a successful adult life. If you are living off campus, it is even more essential to develop a budget that will fit your needs.
Fees and tuition are only responsible for a small portion of the expenses that students will face in college. There will be quite a few other expenses that can include room and board, books, and supplies among other things such as transportation, entertainment, laundry and groceries. Personal budgets and expenses will differ for all, but regardless of that, you need to also give yourself some sort of an emergency cushion for anything unexpected that can come up.
Before you create a budget, you will need to find out how much you earn and what you spend your money on as well as how you will pay for the things you buy – cash, credit, or debit. Debt adds up quickly so it is imperative that you pay attention to the debt that you accumulate from things like credit cards and student loans.
Let’s take a quick peek at some of the things that you will need to pay for – and budget for – when you live off campus:
No matter where you decide to live, you will need to have an energy supplier. If you happen to live in one of the states that is deregulated, you will have the added benefit of choosing who that supplier will be. This means that you will be able to compare rates and go with the cheapest one. In states that are deregulated, such as Illinois, you will be able to get more information from the energy suppliers regarding their rates.
One of the things that could be considered a hidden expenses of college is furnishings. You might have already purchased some things before getting to college. Things like appliances, storage containers, hair dryers, bulletin boards, trash cans, laundry baskets, furniture, decorations, lamps, towels, bedding, and the like. Once you are getting settled in, you might have already come up with a new list of items that you have found out that you are missing. This might be something like personal electronics or a vacuum cleaner. Decide what is absolutely necessary, because most of these items have only a limited post college life and they can often be shared or rented.
If you choose to live off campus, then you will have to pay rent for your lodgings. Make sure that you don’t go crazy with the luxuriousness of your housing. You need to find something that is within a workable distance from your school and it will need to be something that will not mean that you will be living beyond your means. It has to be easily affordable.
There are not too many college costs that are more unnerving and unpredictable than costs for transportation. Typical students who attend colleges out of state will need two or three plane tickets to get home and back throughout the school year. Also, these trips will need to be right around holidays, which means that airfare will be at their highest.
Students who attend college in state will usually have their own vehicle – which will incur costs for parking in campus and any traffic violations on campus. Those who don’t have a vehicle will incur fees for the bus, Uber, cabs or any other transportation to and from classes.
This is by no means meant to be an all – inclusive list. There will be other hidden fees, such as replacement fees for lost IDs, meal cards, etc., and these can cost anywhere from $10 all the way up to $50. There are also things like sporting events as well as fraternities and sororities. There are many more and when you make your budget, you should remember to try to include as many of these things as possible.
One Final Tip
No matter if you will be living by yourself or if you decide to have roommates, you might want to consider setting up an appointment with your school’s Student Wellness Center. Most of them will provide budget counseling on a one on one basis. These services are typically both confidential and free. They can really be extremely beneficial when it comes to setting up a budget.