My first week of college I received a check for about four thousand dollars. It was student loan money that was supposed to cover an apartment, books, transportation, all the necessities of college life for the next three months. But by the end of the first month I had blown most of it away.
I had bought a new computer to help me study, a new bike to get around campus, and had spent a ridiculous amount of money eating out with friends. By the end of the first quarter I was eating ramen, skimping on laundry, and counting the days till I’d get my next loan check.
The problem was that I was budgeting –if you could call it budgeting– off my account balances. I wasn’t thinking about the expenses I would have to pay later. When I saw that I had four thousand dollars in the bank, I thought that I had plenty to spend on whatever I wanted. I forgot about rent, books, transportation, and all the necessities I would need for the next three months.
Don’t make the same mistake! Whether you’re working your way through college or taking out loans, it’s important to set a budget with your money. Use EEBA to budget your income, setting aside the money you’ll need later so that you know how much you can spend today.
If you’re looking for a good budget calculator specifically for college life, check out this one from Sallie Mae (http://www.collegeanswer.com/tools/budget-calculator). It does a great job of suggesting budget categories you may not think of on your own. When you’re ready, create the same budget in EEBA so you can track your progress and keep it with you on the go.