How To Create A Back-To-School Budget


Image via U.S. News

It’s that time of year again, Smart Girls. School is starting and with all that knowledge comes expenses, both the studious kind like textbooks, and the fun kind like makeup. This week, I’d like to alert you of some tips for staying somewhat thrifty this September, especially if college is on the horizon! 

Image via flickr

Image via flickr

Scour The Internet For Your Reading Materials 

It may be tempting to just get that boring textbook shopping out of the way before you arrive on campus, but wait until after classes begin to get those books. Your bookstore may very well be the most expensive place to find your materials, even if it is the most convenient. Use the Internet to your advantage; look at websites like Amazon and Chegg for deals, rent where you can, and check for used copies. You may also want to do a quick search online to find necessities for clubs and sports.

Plan Your Meals

Image via Nutrition Smart

Image via Nutrition Smart

For this next tip, I’m not saying that you should know exactly what you’re going to eat next Tuesday for lunch, but you should have an idea of what kind of meals you’re going to have in the near future. Make sure to have a list of some basic items you’ll need if you have a kitchen, and even basic items to stock your mini-fridge. It’s always good to have things like spaghetti as well as a protein like sliced chicken breast on hand. They’re both pretty easy to make; just throw some breadcrumbs on your chicken, grab some pasta sauce of your choosing, and you’re all set. By planning your meals, you may learn that you eat some items pretty regularly, so you’ll have a good idea of how much you’re spending per trip. Bonus tip: don’t go into the grocery store on an empty stomach! Your wallet will not be pleased.

Image via Bloomberg

Image via Bloomberg

Buy In Bulk

If you’re living in an apartment, it’s definitely a good idea to head over to Costco for some essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, pens, Post-Its, etc. Shopping at your local convenience store for a few rolls of toilet paper will add up pretty quickly, so if you can buy in bulk, do it. They also have things that you don’t need to replenish often, like Brita filter pitchers or pillows, for a cheaper price. 

Be Cautious When You Go Out

Image via telegraph.co.uk

Image via telegraph.co.uk

A big allure of college is the freedom that comes with living away from home. You aren’t bound to as many restrictions so you may go out with friends a lot, or at least more than you would if you were in your hometown. You should be careful about where your money is going and be somewhat frugal. Of course you want to have some fun, but you don’t need to spend all of your money for one night out. It may be a good idea to just use cash so that you have a set amount to spend.

Image via U.S. News

Image via U.S. News

Get A Part-Time Job

If you have time in your schedule between classes, clubs, and athletics, I’d definitely suggest getting a job on or off campus. Working builds character and it also gives you a little bit of money to play with. If your parents are helping you out with school expenses, you can use the hard-earned money from your job when you go out or if want to treat yourself by going shopping.

At the end of the day, I think that the best thing to do is keep track of how much money you want to spend in all areas of your life: academics, sustenance, and going out on the town.  As long as you’re keeping track of your purchases (keep those receipts!) and checking your bank account, you should be on top of your back-to-school budget. 

For more back-to-school related articles, check out How to Deal with Back-to-School Anxiety, The 20 College Necessities You Haven’t Even Thought Of, and 4 Steps For Perfect Note-Taking

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