If you’re a college student, you’re likely balancing multiple expenses – from tuition and fees to books and supplies. You may also have varying housing, food, and commuting costs depending on whether you live on campus or commute from a house or apartment nearby.
To learn how students are managing these financial commitments, we stopped by Central Penn College in Summerdale, PA, to ask their students for their best budget-friendly tips for students living on and off campus.
Even if you commute, you may find yourself on campus during common mealtimes, making it more convenient to purchase your food from the cafeteria. Some factors to consider when planning out your on-campus food costs include:
If you’re planning on dining outside of the cafeteria regularly, there are things to consider, as well:
When considering transportation costs, you may think this is something only commuters who are in the car every day have to worry about. However, this is an expense students who live on campus must plan for, as well. Trips home or to visit friends on the weekend, as well as travel home at the end of a term can make a significant dent in your budget if you don’t plan ahead.
Whether it’s daily commutes or longer trips, looking back at your past semesters can give you an idea of how much you typically spend on gas, bus tickets, and any other forms of transportation.
No matter the nature or frequency of your trips, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Setting aside time each month to go over your previous month’s spending and what you’ll need for the coming weeks can be helpful in staying on budget, as well.
As you look at the coming month, students reminded us of the importance of making sure money for your bills is set aside before any leisure spending. Factoring these expenses as you plan your month will give you an idea of what extra activities you can afford to participate in, as well as make sure you don’t run out of money when your bills come due.
In addition to planning for the month ahead, many students wisely mentioned the importance of planning for long-term and unexpected expenses. One student recommended putting $50, or whatever amount you can, aside from each paycheck you receive if you’re working a part-time job. Having this money go directly into a separate savings account will allow you to build an emergency fund that can provide a cushion in the future if you run into an unexpected expense, such as a car repair or an emergency trip home.
Planning out your meals, cutting costs on transportation, and saving for long-term expenses are just a few steps you can take to get ahead of your expenses.
For more budget-friendly tips for students, visit psecu.com/learn.