woman going over her monthly budget on a laptop

Budgeting Tips for College Students

Budgeting while in college can be a struggle at times. For many young adults, the need to budget finances seems like a difficult task or something that can wait until after graduation. However, the truth is that honing in on budgeting skills before you leave college will help you form healthy spending habits that will last a lifetime.

When starting college, you’re taking the first steps of a journey that will teach you so much and open up many doors. The same can be said of creating and sticking to a budget. Once you do, it’s an investment in your financial future. For that reason, we compiled the top money-saving tips for college students on a budget to help you on this journey.

Make a List of Your Expenses

When it comes to budgeting, one of the best things you can do is make a comprehensive list of all your expenses. This way, you know what you need and how much you expect to spend for the month. Also, the list will help you keep track of your budget and can help establish a baseline for future months.

Create a budgeting worksheet to list your monthly spending and categorize it by needs and wants or fixed and variable expenses. Besides necessities, don’t forget to add savings to your list so you can have extra money to pull on for emergencies or future goals.

Know Your Income and Resources

Once you already have an idea about your supposed expenses, it’s time to calculate your earnings. This would include monetary awards, student loans, support from family, and any income earned through employment (if any). Then, subtract the needs you listed above. If you still have money left, you can put some of your budget for wants. The ultimate aim should be to reach the point where the remaining demands on your funds are met without exhausting all the sources of your budget. Ideally, your expenses should be less than your sources of income.

Spend Less Than Your Financial Means

As a college student, it’s imperative to learn to live below your means. It’s a frugal way of life, but it helps you become financially stable and build a solid foundation by investing in the things that matter most. The younger you get started, the better off you’ll be financially when you graduate.

Utilize Student Discounts

One of the many perks of being a student is getting a discount on anything from groceries to food, school supplies, and services. With your student ID or email, you can also sign up for various services (such as Prime Student on Amazon) to receive special discounts, exclusive college deals, and promotions. Compare the different services you choose and ensure that student discounts are included.


Setting up your budget and sticking to it is a crucial part of how you save and invest while in college. We hope that these budgeting tips for college students will empower you to keep yourself financially healthy — now and in the future.