Tips on how to budget as a university student

Zahra Mustansir


I’ve never been the one to shop 'til I drop. In fact, I’m actually stingy with my money. I wait until my $1.29 Ragu goes on sale for $1 before I buy it.

But lately, I’ve gotten a little haywire with my money. My monthly credit bills that were once less than $100 now come close to $500. And truth is, I have no idea on how to start budgeting.

My strategy before was just not to spend money. But living on my own, I’ve realized that there's no way to not spend money. 

Girl with shopping bags

So while I learn on my own, I’ll share the tips and tricks I learned along the way:


1. Make a realistic budget

A doable budget hits the mark. A budget that isn’t too lenient or constricting is a good way to go.

Also, be honest. If you know you’re going to give in to buying that Starbucks refresher then put that in the budget. 

girl holding coffee


2. Budget to zero

What does it mean? Add up all your income then type in all your fixed expenses (rent, utility bills, transportation, etc.) and expected expenses (coffee, entertainment, shopping, etc.). This puts a name to every dollar. If money is left over than use that for your savings account. 

Or you can go the other way and set a monthly savings goal and divide up the rest. 

calculator and expense sheet on table


3. Track your expenses

This one seriously sucks and will give you a headache by the end of it. That $2 spent on a pack of gum, $5 spent at Starbucks—track it all. It’s easy to lose track in 30 days and it’ll show on your credit card bill. 

girl typing on phone


4. Save up for big purchases

A big purchase can off-set your budget, leaving you with hardly any extra bucks. A good tip is to leave aside a few dollars every month for it instead of buying it in one go. 

person handing over their credit card

So those are all the tips I have for now. Remember to make adjustments as you go along. It’s okay to not get it right the first time. 

There are also budgeting apps that you can download on your phone to make it easier. There are tools in excel that can also be used to aid you. 

Also check out some extra money saving perks to help you add more to the piggy bank. 

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