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Back-to-School Budgeting for College Students

8/17/23 | Lindsie Wharff, Marketing Specialist

Students are returning to campus soon to begin their fall semester. Some are just starting their collegiate studies, and others are completing their last semester. Regardless of where you are at with your academic journey, budgeting is an essential skill for college students. Students often consider tuition, housing, and textbooks in their budget. However, several other everyday expenses might need to be remembered. We’re here to help define those expenses and help you incorporate them into your budget.


Top 10 Forgotten Expenses


1. Health Care Costs: 

While your student fees might cover basic health insurance, it's crucial to remember that dental, eye care and certain lab fees might not be included. Your plan could also limit mental health services and prescription medications.


2. Transportation:

 Having a vehicle on campus can provide convenience, but it comes with additional expenses. Be sure to account for gas, maintenance, parking permits, and other unexpected repairs.


3. Food, Take-Out, and Snacks: 

While meal plans are often required for on-campus residents, they might only cover some cravings or late-night study sessions. Snacks, take-out meals, and that essential morning coffee can easily chip away at your budget.


4. Laundry: 

Washing your clothes can be costly, even if your laundry machine is just down the hall. Remember to set aside some funds for laundry detergent and machine usage fees.


5. Entertainment and Social Activities: 

College is more than just classes; socializing and unwinding are equally important. Allocate a portion of your budget for outings, movies, concerts, and other social activities.


6. Personal Care Items:

 From toiletries to personal grooming products, these seemingly minor items can collectively impact your monthly expenses.


7. Technology Expenses:

In today's digital age, having the right tech tools is essential for academic success. Consider expenses like software, apps, laptop repairs, and accessories.


8. Subscriptions and Memberships: 

Streaming services, gym memberships, and other subscriptions can easily be noticed in your budget. Make sure to track these costs and decide which ones are truly necessary.


9. Seasonal Clothing: 

Weather changes, and so should your wardrobe. Set aside funds for new clothes or cold-weather gear when the seasons shift.


10. Emergency Expenses: 

Life is unpredictable, and emergencies can happen at any time. Having a financial safety net for unexpected medical bills, urgent repairs, or other unforeseen circumstances is essential.


Tips for Budgeting:

Now that you're aware of these often-overlooked expenses, here are some tips to help you budget effectively:


Create a Detailed Budget: 

List all your sources of income and categorize your expenses. This will give you a clear overview of your financial situation.


Prioritize Essentials: 

Allocate your funds to essential expenses like tuition, housing, and groceries before considering discretionary spending.


Use Budgeting Apps: 

Many apps are designed to help you track your expenses and stick to your budget. They can provide real-time insights into your spending habits.


Set Spending Limits: 

Determine how much you can spend in each category and try your best to stick to those limits. This will prevent overspending.


Plan for Savings: 

Remember to allocate a portion of your budget towards savings. Even a small amount can add up over time and provide a safety net.


Review and Adjust Regularly: 

Your financial situation and expenses can change throughout the year. Regularly review your budget and adjust as needed.


As you navigate the world of budgeting, consider opening an account with Altabank's Totally Free Checking. This account offers a convenient and cost-effective way to manage your finances as a student. With no monthly fees and free online banking, you can keep track of your spending and savings effortlessly.


Remember, budgeting might seem overwhelming at first, but it's a skill that will serve you well beyond your college years. By accounting for all your expenses, planning, and making informed financial decisions, you'll be better equipped to achieve your academic and personal goals.


Lindsie Wharff is a Marketing Specialist at Altabank. She specializes in social media and marketing content and enjoys helping people learn more about their finances.