10 tips for budgeting

Alysha Garrett-Byrd

Illustration credit: Jasmine Mochizuki / Visual Editor
Illustration credit: Jasmine Mochizuki / Visual Editor

College is all about growing up, and part of adulthood is being aware of your money… or lack thereof. Here are some budgeting tips to help keep you financially afloat.

1. Know your expenses: You know what day rent is due and when your phone bill is due, but do you budget for gas every month? What about the bills that vary each month, such as utilities? Having knowledge of exactly what is leaving your account and when will be very helpful in creating a budget. Take the time to write down all the bills and payments that are due every month.

2. Use a calendar: Whether it is on your phone or an actual calendar you hang on the wall, mapping out your monthly expenses is essential to managing your money. If you are working, you can add your paydays to the calendar and calculate how much should be in your account at all times. It is a great way to make sure you stay on track and allows you to be aware of your spending throughout the month.

3. Open a savings account: Even if you don’t have much to set aside, $50 a month will be $600 by the end of the year. Student savings accounts have a lower balance requirement, often between $300-$500, and collect little interest over wthe year so you are being rewarded for saving! It is great to have some money saved for an emergency situation or holiday shopping, so starting as soon as you can benefits you in the long run.

4. Take a money management course: CSUN offers money management courses for students to help them set their budgets. Check the financial aid website for dates and times. There is also a website called cashcourse.org that offers online workshops to help you learn to manage money.

5. Use student discounts: Many popular places, especially near campus, offer student discounts if you show your ID card. This includes restaurants, clothing stores, and even some theaters. That 10 to 15 percent will quickly add up even if you are only eating out once in awhile.

6. Buy used textbooks: Many students do this already, but some want all their books in one place so they just head to the bookstore. With a little online searching, textbooks can be found at much lower prices. Also, Kindle and electronic versions of books are usually cheaper than the print versions, so they are a smart financial option.

7. Set an entertainment budget: We all need a little fun every now and then, but these outings can quickly become expensive. Groupon is great for discounts on entertainment as they have deals on concerts, fairs, nightclubs and other ideas for a fun night out. Sign up to get deals via email and always know what deals are coming up.

8. Cook instead of eat out: Cooking for yourself is far less expensive than eating out and with grocery coupons you can always ensure savings. Some grocery stores, such as Vons, have an iPhone app that connects to your store savings card. You can browse the app before you go shopping and add the coupons to your card without having to clip physical coupons. It’s an easy way to save and it remembers what you purchase, creating personalized deals for the future.
9. Carpool or use public transportation when you can: Gas prices are always changing and it can sometimes be hard to set a budget for gas usage. Carpooling with a friend to campus a few days a week can help you both save money. Using public transportation is also a good option, as a pass is often less expensive than the amount of money you would be spending on gas.
10. Buy what you need, before buying what you want: This one sounds like common sense, but sometimes it is hard to think about the future when you see something at the mall that you MUST HAVE. When the season changes and it starts to cool down, it is easy to want to go out and get a whole new wardrobe. While that would be great to be able to do, as college students, many do not have that luxury. When shopping for clothes, always look for sales! Many popular stores always have specials and some even offer student discounts.