Your college years can be the best and worst of times simultaneously. On the one hand, you have more freedom than in high school. On the other hand, you’re often limited to quite a strict budget. Learning how to budget your finances is an essential life skill you can carry out for the rest of your life.

With the right financial habits, you can make any budget work and survive college. Here are some practical money-budgeting tips for college students:

Track Everything

Tracking everything sounds excessive but trust us with this. Track every purchase you make, even the little ones, and label each expense with a specific category.

You don’t need to over specify each category; the simpler it is, the better it works. You can just put “essential” or “non-essential” next to your expenses. If a simple pen and paper don’t work, you can use free financial tracking apps on your phone.

Be More Mindful of Your Spending

Once you’ve noted down all your expenses in a day, week, or month, it’s time to determine what spending you can cut down. Instinctively, you’ll start cutting down expenses from your non-essential list, and that’s a great start. However, if most or all of your expenses are essential, the best thing you can do is to find cheaper alternatives. For example, you can start cooking food at home instead of eating out or buying second-hand books from Amazon instead of new ones.

Have a Savings Goal

Having a savings goal makes you prioritize saving money. Start with a small and realistic amount, depending on your average spending. For example, you could set aside $1 daily for a month and save $30 by the end of the period. You can also portion out a part of your budget if you receive it in bulk, such as in a scholarship. If this doesn’t work for you, try saving for something material. People are often motivated to reach a goal if there’s a reward at the end of the line.

Look for an Income Stream

As a university student, you’re at the right age to find a part-time or paid internship opportunity. There are a lot of websites and platforms you can use to find jobs that suit your skills, experience, and interests. Working part-time will help you learn new skills and earn extra money to cover your non-essential expenses. There are also various ways you can establish a new income stream, like starting a freelance business or selling used books.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts

University students have vast discount options, from events and educational supplies to technology. Many companies and websites offer discounts for students with valid university IDs. Look at all the options and take advantage of them whenever possible.

The Bottomline

Your college life isn’t just about developing your skills to become attractive to employers and establish a flourishing career. It’s also a time to hone your life skills and be prepared to face the practical challenges of adulting. With these money-saving tips for college students on a budget, you can start developing healthy financial habits today to reach your significant financial goals tomorrow.