Parents, I’m directing this entry to your college-aged children. You can listen, but you can’t respond with eye rolls or pointed fingers.
College students, congratulations on getting into your favorite, or second favorite, institution of higher learning. You worked very hard during your first 12 years to get to this point, and now you’re ready to take the next step toward a bright future. By the way, this includes setting up a budget for your daily expenses while attending lectures and labs.
Yes, I can see your virtual eyebrows rise, but take a moment to think. You’re going to need money for food, gas, after-school entertainment, and, if you don’t live at or nearby home, money to do laundry. Regardless if you get your spending money from your parents or a part-time job, you want it to stretch across the semester so you’re not wearing the same pair of socks three days in a row while you eat Cup of Noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To help you along this path to financial stability, here are a few categories to consider.
How much you allocate to this budget category depends on what type of college you attend. Some urban universities and colleges with sprawling campuses may offer free public transportation to get their students from one class to another. However, the system may not run at all hours or every day of the week. These circumstances, as well as being at a college a distance away from home as well as basic amenities, may require you to, at the minimum, purchase passes for city or regional transportation or, at the maximum, bring your own vehicle.
You decision determines the amount of money you’ll need in your budget’s transportation category. Monthly and annual public transportation passes can be purchased ahead of time, which means a possible up-front, one-time cost. Bringing an automobile onto campus requires regular contributions to the budget for parking passes, fuel, and maintenance and repairs. You might want to include some extra money to pay those tickets you accrue when you park your car in an unauthorized lot.
You have a meal plan, but there may come a time you’re not interested in eating what they offer or when you want to head out to the local pizza place with your friends. Money needs to be put away for these events. How much depends on the frequency of your eat-out or take-in meals. In addition, you want to factor in weekly allotments for needed food and non-alcoholic drink you can store in your dorm room for cooking up in the common area.
You’re never going to get back your college years, so responsively enjoy them. This means allocating some funds toward entertainment, whether it be a night at the local pub or a concert at the theater. You can add a regular amount of money to this budget category if you have a scheduled day where you get together with others for a night on the town. For concerts or plays, take a look at the local events calendar to see when your favorites are performing. Then, you can allocate a small portion of funds each week to build up for tickets.