Managing College Finances: Budgeting And Financial Aid

Mary Joseph
Mary Joseph June 16, 2023
Updated 2023/06/16 at 1:20 PM
managing college finance

Managing College Finances: Budgeting And Financial Aid

If you haven’t recently won a huge lottery prize, chances are you prioritize managing your finances. Even for the wealthy, money management can be challenging, and as a student, it can feel even more difficult to balance your bank account.

When you return to school, you may have reduced your work hours to cope with the increased workload of homework and other responsibilities in your life. Alternatively, you may have never paid much attention to your grocery expenses or the impact of monthly streaming service subscriptions on your checking account.

Whatever the reason that motivates you to gain better control over your budget, you recognize the need for assistance in managing money while in college. That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled advice from financial experts and fellow college students like you. Check out these 10 practical tips for becoming a master of money management.

A significant number of students often face financial constraints, highlighting the importance of effectively handling their finances to meet their needs. It is crucial to acquire the skills of budgeting effectively and saving money while pursuing education at the university level.

Managing College Finances: Budgeting And Financial Aid

Have A Budget:

A good starting point is to establish a basic student budget by considering your income and expenses. This budget should account for your recurring costs, such as rent, utilities, phone bill, and gym membership, as well as any occasional or unique expenditures.

It is advisable to create a rudimentary budget as soon as you start contemplating university. This will help identify any financial gaps that need to be addressed, allowing you ample time to do so or consider this aspect when making decisions about your university education. If your student loan falls short, our guide offers some recommendations on what steps you can take.

keeping To Your Budget:

Once you have established a budget, the key is to adhere to it. However, this can be more challenging when you find yourself in a new environment, taking care of yourself for the first time, especially when you receive a substantial student loan.

To manage your finances effectively, you can take the following steps:

  • Transfer your money: If your student loan, salary, or savings are sitting in your primary account, it becomes tempting to spend it. Move these funds to a separate account, preferably one that is not easily accessible. Set up a direct debit that transfers your weekly budget into the account you use for daily expenses.
  • Allow for flexibility: Avoid budgeting every last penny. Unexpected expenses can arise, such as laptop repairs or impromptu trips home, which can disrupt your budget. Having an interest-free overdraft can provide a safety net for emergencies like these.
  • Prioritize essential payments: Your budget should prioritize essential expenses like rent, food, transportation, and books—things you need to live and study. Make these payments upfront or arrange for automatic withdrawals at the beginning of each term or month to prevent accidental spending.
  • Stick to a shopping list: Plan your meals for the week and create a shopping list accordingly. While `perishable items like milk, bread, fruits, and vegetables should be bought in smaller quantities, you can purchase student staples like pasta, rice, tea, and canned goods in larger quantities if there are any discounts available. These items have longer expiration dates.

By following these strategies, you can effectively manage your budget and ensure that your finances are under control even in challenging situations.

Use Your Student Bank Account Wisely:

Managing college finance

One advantage of being a student is having access to a student bank account, which offers various benefits to help you handle your finances. In addition to features like monitoring your expenses through the bank’s mobile app and transferring funds between accounts, there are a few more ways in which a student bank account can assist you in managing your money.

Student accounts often provide attractive additional perks such as travel cards, free or discounted cinema tickets, and supermarket gift cards. However, it is important not to be solely enticed by these incentives. Instead, consider which ones would truly be useful to you.

For instance, a travel card can save you a significant amount of money when commuting to lectures, visiting home on weekends, or travelling to see friends in other parts of the country. On the other hand, a discount at a supermarket or cinema would be of no benefit if there are no branches of those establishments in your university city.

Leverage Any Student Discounts:

Online and offline, there are numerous opportunities for students to avail themselves of discounts. These discounts can be found at retail stores, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, exhibitions, gigs, and more.

Typically, you can enjoy a reduction of 10% to 20% off the regular price, and over time, these savings can accumulate significantly. This is especially beneficial for occasions like birthdays, special events, or even just occasional indulgences.

When making a purchase, you will often be prompted to inquire about available discounts or student pricing. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to ask. It’s important to always carry your valid student ID with you, as it may be required as proof of eligibility.

To discover discounts and deals that match your preferences, there are various websites and apps available. Additionally, we provide our own dedicated student discount pages for you to access right away.

Interact With Campus Services:

If you’re experiencing financial difficulties, consider contacting the financial department at your university or college to explore potential assistance. It may be necessary to schedule an appointment, or they might offer regular drop-in sessions.

The finance department can provide reliable and confidential guidance regarding hardship funds, emergency loans, and additional funding. They can also offer advice on various financial concerns, such as avoiding scams.

Moreover, if necessary, they can connect you with other relevant individuals or departments, such as legal, well-being, and job services.

Regardless of your circumstances, the finance department has likely encountered similar situations in the past due to their experience with numerous students. Therefore, don’t hesitate to seek their support.

Save Money Automatically:

Saving a small portion of your salary regularly may seem unproductive, but it’s a dedicated effort that yields benefits in the future. If you find it challenging to save money from your earnings every payday, it’s advisable to make a firm decision and opt for automated savings.

Many banks provide a website feature to assist you in setting up automatic savings. In case you have any queries, reach out to your bank teller and ask about the available options.

Make Your Own Fun And Locate Free Activities:

The allure of dining out and organizing social events centred around spending money can be hard to resist. It often seems like there are no other options in life that don’t require financial resources. However, the truth is, there are plenty of activities that don’t involve spending money.

Instead of constantly going out, I recommend substituting a few evenings of socializing with affordable entertainment options at home.

You can host a game night or rent a movie, enjoying some entertainment while keeping costs minimal. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that there are friends who are also interested in saving money and would be willing to join you in these activities.

Normalize Cooking At Home:

Engaging in home cooking doesn’t imply a complete avoidance of dining out, so there’s no need to give up all the simple pleasures.

However, if you’ve developed a habit of regularly getting a salad from the nearby deli or visiting your favourite fast-food joint after dinner, it’s worth considering reducing such outings.

Preparing meals at home can be enjoyable, creative, and even a fantastic way to socialize. Although it may require some advance planning, you can save a significant amount of money by buying ingredients from your local grocery store and making the most of leftovers.

Look for some easy, budget-friendly recipes and become adept at them. Remember, just because they are inexpensive doesn’t mean they have to be tasteless if you have the know-how.

Get A Side Hustle:

Having a part-time job, even if it’s only for a few hours, can be a valuable source of income for you during your time in school. It can provide you with spending money and assist in covering the interest on your student loans.

Alternatively, if your field of study doesn’t lend itself to freelance work, you can explore various innovative methods to earn extra cash. You might consider opening an Etsy® shop, selling unwanted clothes, or organizing a garage sale with your peers.

For Your Non-Essential Budget, Try To Stick To Cash:

Using your credit card at the checkout is straightforward—perhaps a bit too effortless! It’s simple to overlook the fact that it represents real money. After receiving your paycheck and distributing funds for tuition, bills, and other regular expenses, consider utilizing cash for other aspects of your budget.

Presenting a fresh $20 note to the cashier might evoke a distinct sensation compared to using a card, yet it can aid in preventing excessive spending. Witnessing the physical departure of cash from your hand can subtly impact your psyche, making it easier to resist impulsive purchases.


Utilizing these suggestions and strategies in your everyday routine provides an excellent foundation for handling finances during your college years. By implementing these straightforward techniques for managing money, college students can enhance their financial security and gain a sense of assurance while pursuing their academic goals.

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