5 Tips To Save Money During Your Last Semester Of College
The thought of entering the real world can be pretty daunting. Soon you’ll be on your own - working a full-time job, paying the bills, and more than likely, trying to pay off dreaded college debt. On the bright side, if you prepare now, it can make a HUGE difference in your future! These 5 budgeting tips help you spend, yet save because let’s be real, everyone wants to be able to have fun and savor every moment in the last few months of college!
Calculate your Loan Payments
The looming reality of paying off your student loans is in the near future, so take advantage of on campus services offered. Every school is different, but most have an exit loan counseling service. This allows students to talk to a professional about their personal situation and figure out the proper repayment plan. Check out the Student Loan Hero payment calculator to easily project your potential monthly payments. All you need to know is your loan balance.
Predict your Post-College Expenses
Build a spreadsheet to predict your expenses by simply adding your sources of income and subtracting out your projected monthly expenses (rent, gym, travel, food, clothing, 401 K, etc.). This gives you an idea of what your post-college fiscal situation will be and allows you to see how much you can hope to save monthly. While some months you may be spending more than others or vice versa, having a solid estimate helps you know what to generally expect.
Create a Monthly Allowance
Once you have projected your future expenses, you will have a better idea of what you can spend in the remaining months of college. Maybe you can spend more than you expected, or maybe you want to save rather than spend to create a safety net for post-grad. Keeping this in mind, you can then create a monthly allowance to budget over the semester.
Open Separate Bank Accounts
Where you keep your money is one of the most critical facets of this plan. Having two separate accounts - savings (fixed costs) and spending (variable costs) - is one of the easiest ways to exercise control. Take the amount of your “allowance” for variable costs from your savings and move it to your spending account at the beginning of each month. If you run out before the end of the month, stop spending until your next allowance.
Limit Food and Drink Expenses
It can be easy to want to eat out rather than grocery shop and cook, but actually making your own food saves a ton of money. According to an article from Forbes, “Cooking at home…can save $200 a month in food costs.” Be smart about the foods and brands you’re purchasing - try a private label, or even shop at ALDI. When it comes to drinks, spending money at bars on alcohol adds up. Give yourself a drink number limit, don’t offer to buy for others, and try to attend as many happy hours or deals as possible.
Remember, these tips aren’t to scare you, but to PREPARE you. You’ll never get to experience anything like college again, so don’t forget to make the most of the time you have left with your friends in the place you have made a home over the last four years! While endings are always hard, being smart now will set you up for successful new beginnings!