College is an exciting time when you’ll explore ideas and possibilities that will impact your future. It might also be the first time you’re managing money on your own. If you’re footing the bill for your tuition, you probably appreciate the hefty price tag of getting an education in New York and beyond. And since tuition isn’t the only expense to consider, it’s important to budget carefully.

College Budgeting 101

Follow these steps from Tompkins Community Bank when building your college budget:

  • Figure out how much money you’re earning
  • Collect receipts and track how much money you spend
  • Analyze your expenses and determine what you can live without and where you can cut costs
  • Create a spending strategy and remain disciplined
  • If possible, set aside some extra money in a savings account that you can use toward a financial goal or for emergency money
  • Be prepared to rein yourself in if a friend encourages you to spend beyond your means

Financial responsibility can be overwhelming for some college students and lead them down a dangerous road of mounting debt. Careful saving and spending habits can pay off in the long run and set you up for better terms and rates when you’re ready to borrow money for a car, buy a home or make another major purchase.

Tips for Saving Money in College

As you create your budget for the semester, consider these money-saving tips and smart spending habits.

  • Reduce tuition costs by securing grants and scholarships throughout your college career. Check out some scholarship opportunities for NY residents.
  • Earn transferable college credits by taking courses at less-expensive community colleges in NY.
  • Stock up on healthy snacks or learn how to cook so you can spend less on your meal plan
  • Consider living with friends or family to defer room and board expenses
  • Scour discount stores for less expensive school supplies. You also can find better deals if you buy in bulk, then split the cost with your friends.
  • Find used textbooks online or look for opportunities to rent your books.
  • Look for free entertainment on or near campus and take advantage of any discounts that local businesses offer to college students.
  • Join on-campus clubs or groups to experience fun résumé-building excursions at a discount.
  • Consider whether you truly need a vehicle on campus. If you can walk, bike, skateboard or take public transportation, you’ll save money on vehicle maintenance, insurance and parking fees.

You don’t have to be an economics major to figure out a responsible personal finance strategy. When it comes to your daily money management, don’t flunk the tests! Remember, the financial advisors at Tompkins are here to help. Contact us to learn more about how to set up your student budget.