One of the most stressful things about starting and finishing university is being able to budget appropriately and afford all the necessities and luxuries during those four years. Budgeting your expenses isn’t complicated if you know where to splurge and where to save, however, everyone’s course load and lifestyle looks different and can lead to a variety of expenses. Below are a few basic elements that you need to save for and a few tips on where to allocate that money so that you can make the most out of your university experience while you are there.
Next to tuition, a big chunk of where your money goes during your university years is course books and materials for various classes. These should be a budgeting priority before the school year starts so that you are able to spend as much as necessary without feeling like you are burning a hole in your pocket with every new syllabus. Designate a chunk of your tuition specifically to course materials and be sure not to dip into it unless absolutely necessary—these books are defining factors in your success in each of your classes so you will need to invest in them. An alternative that can save you a bit of money is looking online for used copies of textbooks or scanning the chapters you will be reading for class from one of your friend’s copies instead of buying it yourself.
There is no real way of avoiding spending money on food, especially if you live on campus. A good chunk of your savings will go toward nourishing yourself, so be prepared for the expense and don’t opt for expensive meals every night. Weigh out our options and consider if cooking at home might be more fiscally responsible than a quick fast food meal every few hours. It is important to also eat the right foods so that the money you are spending on it will be worth the productivity and nutrition you will get to help you through all your arduous courses.
Whether you are driving to school everyday or taking public transit you will have to put a substantial amount aside for gas or transit fare. Don’t overlook this budgeting because it can cost a significant amount as the month’s progress and can leave you feeling tight for money when it comes time to buy new course books or meal prepping for the week. As an alternative, try walking wherever you can while the weather is still nice or op to carpool with friends when necessary in order to split gas money and a be a bit more environmentally conscious.
You should always be prepared for unexpected technological expenses that may come about as you progress through your years of study. These may be a new laptop if yours gives out or investing in a virtual data room apps to securely store all your school and loans documents for your records. Incorporate a percentage of your budget for unexpected expenses like these so that you are covered in case of an accident or a technological development that can give you the peace of mind with your confidential documents.
Self-Care & Maintenance
It can be easy to forget to take care of yourself when you are drowning in course work, but it’s important to put aside some of your saved money for instances of self-care throughout the years. These include money for your laundry, any medication you may need, toiletries or products that will help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated to take on every new day. With time, these can all add up, so you need to factor them into a solid budget for the year and know what is worth the money and what is not.
And, finally, you won’t really be able to enjoy your university experience if you aren’t participating in any social activities with friends or classmates. However, these can cost a significant amount of money so you should be putting the last of your budget aside for these experiences without spending more than necessary throughout the year. Consider how often you plan on spending out with friends and how much you can afford to splurge during the semester, especially if you’ve already spent a lot on course books. It’s important to have fun during your university years, but it’s also necessary to practice budgeting for your future endeavours.