Monday, September 12, 2011

Freshman Finances: How to budget for your new college life

College can be a substantial investment and proper planning is important in order to successfully manage financial responsibilities at school.  It helps to start planning ahead by creating a budget.  

When creating your budget, estimate what you will need for tuition, fees, books, and food.  This will give you an idea of what your expenses will be at college. If you’re interested in keeping expenses low, here are some tips to assist you.   

Books. Look for used books from your campus bookstore or shop online.  Consider renting your books or buying a book from a friend who has taken the course the previous semester. Some colleges also have websites that students use to sell their old books for fair prices.

Meals. Take advantage of meal plans – you’ve already paid for it.  Some cafeterias may be open late or all night so you can avoid ordering food or going out to dinner. Colleges like Michigan State University have Sparty's Express stops where you can use your meal plan to get food to take on the go.  If you shop for dorm snacks, use coupons and other discounts to save money.

Entertainment. When going out with friends, plan to take a certain amount of money with you. You can leave the rest behind. This will help you limit your spending during a night out.  You can also take advantage of student discounts because many places will give you a discount when you show your student ID. 

Take advantage of free and inexpensive campus events.  There are an abundance of free movies, sports events, planetariums and museums to explore on most college campuses.

Fees. Watch out for little fees that may chip away at your budget.  Whether it is a parking fine or a late drop fee, these costs can really add up.  

To help you easily access your money and manage your spending, Community Financial Credit Union offers VISA®  debit cards that can be used on college campuses.  We don’t charge “foreign fees” when you access your money through network ATMs on campus.  For more information visit our previous post on Financial Steps for the College Bound on how to financially prepare for college.


Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

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