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How do you budget for college?

I don’t want to be eating ramen everyday or not eating at all. I don’t want to be a stereotypical broke college kid. #college #budgeting #financial-aid

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Paul’s Answer

When I was in school I worked part-time jobs both on campus and off to make sure I had money. I would strongly suggest you do this. It could be working at the mall, the local pizza place or a waiter at a restaurant ( I did all 3).  Also, work-study was once awarded as part of my financial aid package and I worked in the school's post office.

Once you start working the hard part will be budgeting and not spending up all you money ordering pizza and going to parties. BTW, one of the best parts about working at the local pizza place, fast food restaurant, deli ,etc. is that you get employee discounts on food so you'll save money when you don't eat on campus. Also, be prepared for your friends to ask for you to pay their way into a party or club, buy them something to eat when you guys go out or pay for their popcorn when you go to the movies. You must learn to politely say "no". A good excuse is that you need to put the money towards books or your check was short.

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Don’s Answer

Partially related to your question but so important.

I will tell you the secret that very few people will be willing to do but it will change your life. In October 1987 the stock market dropped more than 20% in one day. That month I began tracking my net worth on a spreadsheet and for every month thereafter I have continued this practice, 391 months in a row and counting.

Each month I give this report to my wife. Some months we discuss but not always. This simple practice has helped us to work together. It has helped us feel we are both in it together. It helps us prioritize. It requires us to make investments in ourselves and to hold each other accountable. It helps us to make adjustments in time for those adjustments to matter. It has led me to educate myself on investments so that our family is more financially secure. It takes about an hour a month and has made all the difference in helping me understand the following important point:

You will make mistakes. The secret is not repeating them.

As you begin thinking about budgeting for college (or anything) always keep in mind what you have and where you want to go. The real secret is not your budget but the motivation to stick to your budget.