With the fall semester approaching quickly, I got to thinking about my financial situation. I have class nearly everyday which means I have to reduce my hours at work. Fewer hours equates to less money. Stressed (because money stresses me out), I knew I had to devise a budget for my fall semester.
I decided to write about this topic because I think it is important for all college students to reevaluate their financial situation before every semester.
When I was creating my budget there were many (let’s say hidden) costs that I didn’t think about. Transportation was one of them. Each day, I drive about 30 miles total from home, school, and work. In a week, that ends up being 210 miles, which is about a half a tank of gas. The cost of that is $25-30, depending on gas prices. For my 16 week semester, I am paying close to $480.
Another cost that I had not looked too deeply into last semester was food. I decided to go back and look what I spent on food. Each day I would get a cup of coffee and a snack. On some of those days, I would also go out to lunch and/or dinner. Overall, I spent close to $1,000 on food over the semester. Obviously, that raises a lot of red flags.
Apparently last semester, I was a careless spender which resulted in me having little to no money on a regular basis. This right here is the exact reason why I think it is important for college students to evaluate their finances before going back to school. In many cases, especially my own, students aren’t aware of the way they are allocating their money. Although I spent my money carelessly, it taught me an important lesson and made me want to actually stick to the budget I created. Sometimes we have to feel the discomfort of our mistakes to learn something valuable.
I encourage all of you to make a budget for your fall semester, but before doing so go back and look at how you previously spent your money. This will help you see if you’re spending your money recklessly or wisely.
I am sure you are all wondering what I use as a budgeting tool? Worry no more because I am going to tell you. When I created my first budget, I used a pencil and paper. Since I am not a mathematician I found a lot of inconsistencies, so I decided to go to iontuition.com. There I was able to not only create a budget, but also set up reminders for when payments were due. I use this budgeting tool because it is simple, easy to manage, and gives me more confidence with my newly discovered personal finance skills.
Go discover, create a budget, and have a frugal fall semester!