When it comes time to leave for college, you are likely excited about what’s to come. You are looking forward to the new friends you will make, are ecstatic about being on your own for the first time in your life and generally anticipating the whole experience. While it’s normal for you to feel this way, you have to acknowledge areas that you simply don’t know much about like budgeting. In most cases, you as a new college student will not have previously had a need for a strict budget that lays out all your bills and income. If your parents will be paying all your bills, sending you money for food, groceries, school supplies and clothes, feel free to remain blissfully budget free. For the rest of you who are living in the real world for the first time on your own, you will appreciate the following budget tips for first time apartment renters.
Properly Identify How Much Income You Will Have Coming In
Before doing anything else, first time apartment renters need to know how much money they will have coming in. If your parents have committed to helping you by sending a set amount each month, make sure you count this money as well. If you don’t have a job secured, ask your college about local businesses that like hiring college kids. Businesses that make a habit of hiring college students understand they need to study and have certain times of the day off, which makes the employer, employee relationship that much easier. Also, don’t underestimate your ability to earn extra money on the side. Offer to babysit, check out openings at your college library or bookstore, walk dogs, teach a skill like playing an instrument or painting if you are talented enough to pass your knowledge on to someone else. The main point is to figure out what you will have coming in on a regular basis. Once you have this number ready, you can move on to the next budget tip for first time apartment renters.
Don’t Underestimate Food Costs
Before creating a complete list of expenses, you first have to properly quantify how much money you actually spend on food. To do this, simply write down every single time you spend money on food. This means you write it down if you get a candy bar out of a vending machine or if you stop by Starbucks for a coffee. Write it all down. You don’t have to use traditional pen and paper. You can do it on your phone by using various apps like Mint Money Manager or Left to Spend. Once you have the accurate number you spend on eating, you place that in your budget like a bill. Then, you determine if you want to spend less than you currently are. If you do want to spend less, simply set that amount and don’t allow yourself to spend more than your predetermined amount.
Identify Where Your Money Needs to Go
If you are like most first time apartment renters, your biggest bill each month will be your installment payment. Some apartments include utilities in the price of installment payments. If not, though, you will need to take utilities into account. Get a piece of paper, a program on your computer or an app like those mentioned above and simply list what bills you have each month. Don’t forget those bills that might only come every three months like car or renter’s insurance. Once you list all your bills, simply subtract them from your income. Hopefully, you will have some money left over. If you don’t, you need to consider increasing your income or decreasing your expenses.
Avoid Credit at all Cost
Yes, there are emergencies that come up for first time apartment renters. There are some things you simply cannot avoid. However, if you prepare well, by having a savings account with at least $1,000 in it at all times, there should be no reason to put anything on a credit card. Never use credit to pay for clothing, food or other items that depreciate in value. Only use this method of payment if every other option has been exhausted.
Budgeting isn’t easy for anyone. This is especially true when you are just starting out in life. Thankfully, through trial and error, you will get to the point where budgeting comes easier. The tips listed above will get you heading in the right direction. Be sure to ask other people who manage their money well for any budget tips they might offer you as first time apartment renters. Contact us at Douglas Heights for more information on our college student apartments.