Affordable Education for Everyone

Organizer and Pen

Managing Your Expenses

Attending university, or any institution of higher learning, can be stressful for many reasons. If you plan well ahead of time, it is easy to forgo some of this stress, especially on a financial level. You can manage your expenses well by projecting your spending ahead of time and by keeping a close eye on the actual spending which occurs. Budgeting and prioritizing are therefore, key to remaining debt-free after financing your education. Foreseeing possible incidental expenses can also be very helpful. You can insure yourself for specific types of emergency situations, for losses and damaged goods. Certain universities also offer some type of health insurance coverage as a part of their tuition fees.

Budgeting

A budget is a helpful organizational tool for managing your expenses during your studies. Your budget should be based on realistic income projections, not regular spending figures. For instance, if your parents are helping you out, include that in the budget. Taking into account the sums received from grants, scholarships and job income will help you figure out the size of your university budget. Once it has been decided, stick to it, to avoid the opportunity for debt. If you are still short, make an informed estimation of your remaining financial needs. You may then seek help from the financial department on campus about bursary and work-study options. Cut costs by paying attention to what is necessary or not. Make long-term and short-term budgets, to help you keep track of your successes in managing your spending. This can be done by making-monthly projections, and keeping a daily log of spending. This way, you can compare your actual spending patterns, to the ones you envisioned for yourself earlier.

Student Cash Flow

Prioritizing your expenses is an important way to curb unnecessary spending. Set a weekly spending limit. This will force you to spend your money on what you need before buying luxuries. If you have broken down your weekly or monthly living expenses, this should not be a problem. On Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s blog Debt Free Forever, we are offered extensive tips for organizing our budgets and keeping track of our money. In addition to the lists of projected spending versus actual daily spending, you can do little things to make this even faster and easier. You can download an app to your phone to conveniently log all expenses on the go. You can color-code items on your ‘to-buy’ list, and can categorize by your level of need for this item.

Pocket Money

For instance, use green for healthy food items, and red for unhealthy food-items on your list. Use a different color for larger expenses, in order to remind yourself to research more into them, before buying them. It is also good to plan buying luxury or extra expenses, in order not to go overboard with them by accident. You can do this by limiting yourself to an item per month or you can motivate yourself this way by buying an item only if you have reached a tangible goal in school (such as a high grade on a test).

Insurance

Avoiding incidental costs is very important for students, who rarely have the flexibility to pay large sums up-front. For this reason, it is highly worth considering insuring yourself and your belongings, in case of accident. A lot of your work will heavily depend on research done over the internet. Many colleges and universities offer some form of insurance as part of your tuition fees. This may include dental, and other medical coverage. This however, rarely covers your personal belongings. This is why it is useful to look into ways of protecting your stuff, both physically and through an insurance plan. Check if your household has an insurance plan which covers you in case of incidents such as fire. You can also purchase a new plan, but beware of student plans, as they are not necessarily better than your regular family arrangements. It is also prudent to insure yourself if you will be traveling during your studies.