9 Budgeting Tips for College Students

Follow these keys and you'll never be strapped for cash.


1 / 10

Cash In - For many, college is the first time you are responsible for handling your own financial business. From paying tuition to making sure you have enough to eat to gassing up the car, there is a lot to juggle. But you can start things off right with these tips. By Kenrya Rankin(Photo: Ridofranz/Getty Images) 


2 / 10

Track Your Expenses - Use an app like Mint, which connects to your bank account and automatically categorizes your expenditures, so you can see just how much you drop on fast food each month.(Photo: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images) 


3 / 10

Underestimate Your Income - Whether your money comes from your parents, a scholarship or a part time job, it pays to slightly underestimate how much will be coming in so that you don't overextend yourself.(Photo: skynesher/Getty Images) 


4 / 10

Differentiate Wants and Needs - To be effective, your budget has to cover your needs first. So while you might want to get Starbucks on the way to class every morning you should def get your money together to buy those (used) textbooks first.(Photo: Peathegee Inc/Getty Images) 


5 / 10

Create a Budget - Now that you know how much you're making and how much you are spending, it's time to figure out how much you should be spending. Mint or YouNeedABudget.com can help you do just that. Ask the tough questions: Can you save more if you limit yourself to one movie night a month? Could you eat more cheaply if you downgrade your meal plan and cook at home?(Photo: skynesher/Getty Images) 


6 / 10

Set Aside Cash for Fun - Earmark a set amount for your wants — say, $80 a month for eating out and buying nail polish — then put that money in an envelope. It's sure to make you spend more carefully. When the cash is gone, you are done spending until it's time to re-up.(Photo: Peathegee Inc/Getty Images) 


7 / 10

Start an Emergency Fund - From a crashed hard drive to a car that refuses to go, things will pop up that your people can't help you pay for. Make a habit of setting aside at least 20 percent whenever you get a refund check or a monetary gift from your great aunt — it will come in handy to cover those surprise expenses.(Photo: BraunS/Getty Images) 


8 / 10

Save With Student Discounts - From train rides on Amtrak to hoodies at H&M, many companies will give you a discount if you flash a valid student ID.(Photo: kate_sept2004/Getty Images) 


9 / 10

Shop Around for a Credit Card - It's tempting to sign up at the vendor tables on campus, but if you're really ready to start your credit history, it pays to use a site like Bankrate.com to find a credit card that won't jack you up before you even get started.(Photo: Westend61/Getty Images) 


10 / 10

Invest - No, really. The Acorn app lets you invest your spare change painlessly. It just rounds up to the nearest dollar each time you make a purchase with a linked card, then uses the accumulated cash to buy stock.(Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images)