One of the things that no one seems to prepare you for is how easy it is to go broke as a college student.
It could only be the second week in, and your bank account is screaming at the number of Starbucks drinks and Postmates deliveries you ordered. This constant spending can make you wonder how you’re even going to survive the rest of college. With so many fun activities and experiences to try out there, is there any way that you can save money and prepare for the future?
The short answer? A confident yes.
As long as you put in a little effort to budget your earnings and stay money-conscious, you’ll always be able to flex a bank account balance that stays well above green. The Fizz community put together a short guide on how you can budget and save money as a broke college student in 5 easy steps.
1. Track and Cut Back
Have you ever randomly checked your balance at the end of the month and felt your jaw drop?
It’s a gut-wrenching feeling that makes you wonder if anyone stole from your account. After all, how could you have spent that much money? You didn’t buy that many snacks, did you?
Or maybe you did but didn’t realize how many expenses you were accumulating. It's almost always the small purchases adding up, rather than a few big transactions that end up breaking the bank. When you don’t track what you spend, it can be too easy to go overboard. To clear this money mystery once and for all, start a spreadsheet and input your purchases for the next two weeks. Very quickly on, you’ll have a much better idea of where you’re budgeting your money and identify the areas to cut back on.
2. Follow the 50/30/20 Rule
Whenever you need a clear way to budget your money, the 50/30/20 rule has your back. All it requires is that you divide your expenses into three basic categories: needs, wants, and savings or debts. In other words, 50% of your after-tax income (from campus jobs, allowance, stipend, or internship savings) will go to needs, 30% will go to wants, and 20% should be set aside or used to pay for debts.
So, the next time you receive that sweet paycheck from work, be sure to budget it according to this trusty rule before you start spending.
3. Keep your friends aware
It can be so hard to not overspend when your friends constantly bring you out to the most expensive activities. Who can constantly afford eating off campus and massive Urban Outfitters shopping sprees anyway? It can feel even worse when you have to reject their invitations, so you just go along with the flow.
However, instead of turning your friends down, you can make them aware of your budget and saving goals. This can help them come up with more budget-friendly activities or be more conscious about the number of extravagant outings you attend together. After all, friends that stay on budget together stay together, and you don't need to overspend to have fun.
4. Take advantage of student discounts
What if there was a way that you could prepare for the future and earn rewards at the same time with every purchase you made? Fizz’s debit card makes that possible.
Fizz is the only card specially designed with college students in mind that not only helps you build your credit score (see how building credit helps you save money), but also get automatic access to cash back at your favorite restaurants and stores around campus.
Plus, the Fizz app helps you track spending and you’ll learn even more about how you can build the best spending habits to safeguard your financial future in college and beyond.
If you’re ready to become smarter about money and make your expenses work for you, then join Fizz. In just 3 minutes, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a financially intelligent college student.
Sam is a Kenyon College alum and is head of content at Fizz. He's been a go to personal finance resource among his peers since getting his first credit card during his sophomore year of college. He hails from Washington, DC, loves all things aviation, and currently lives in Los Angeles.