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How to Watch Your Finances While Going to School

Have you ever noticed that it’s super easy to overspend when your life is just a bit disorganized? You meant to brown bag it instead of eating out; you just didn’t have time to make a lunch. You knew you could save money on back-to-school stuff, but you went in without a plan, missed the sales, and overspent.

If you’re trying to juggle school and work and family and life, well that’s a lot already. Here’s how you can do all that and still keep your finances in check:

Step 1

Breathe. No, seriously. This doesn’t have to be as hard or as stressful as you might think. Just relax and take a few cleansing breathes. Maybe grab a pen and some paper and find a quiet place to jot down a plan.

 

Step 2

View the end goal. When you were a kid did mom or dad ever answer Why? with a lame “Because I said so?” Even if they had some really good reasons for doing whatever you were questioning, they weren’t your reasons. You’re all grown up now and this is about your financial future. So whether you want to build long-term security or just not land in in the poor house, it's time to think for the future.  

 

Step 3

Make a budget. You can’t watch your finances if you can’t even see them. Make a budget that clearly shows the money coming in and the money going out. Include all your sources of consistent revenue but not bonuses and one-off opportunities. You can’t rely on a bonus. Then make a list of all your expenses like rent, utilities, food, and transportation. Accuracy is super important so get as close to real numbers as you can.

 

Step 4

Get organized. Remember how you didn’t have time to make lunch so you bought more expensive and less healthy food? Being organized can help prevent that. Use a grocery list and buy only what you need. Plan meals ahead of time and use leftovers for lunch or have sandwich ingredients ready to go. Make lists for other activities so you don’t waste gas on multiple trips. A list can even help you prioritize what purchases are important and what items you might do without.

 

Step 5

Use common sense saving tips. There are so many ways to save money on big and little things while you’re going to school and even if you’re not. Buy nonperishables in bulk, check out sales, use coupons, look for student discounts, and pay recurring bills online so they’re always on time.

 

There are so many ways to save money if you really look. At Charter College, we care about your education and your life and want you to be able to afford both. Check back here regularly for advice on how to do it.