How to Balance College Life on a Budget

Isabel Grenci

In General Managing MoneyIsabel Grenci

When students enter the world of higher education, they are faced with an abundance of opportunities to expand their social horizons. However, taking on too much can often lead to stress and a neglect for financial responsibility. It’s important to learn how to successfully balance your academic, work, and social life without feeling overwhelmed so you can stay on top of your finances while still taking advantage of the college experience. Let’s take a look at the basics of organizing your college life on a budget.

Balance Your Academic Life in College

College courses typically allow much greater flexibility than high school. Being able to customize your schedule is an exciting change, but with increased control comes a greater responsibility. Scheduling your classes for times that accommodate your work style is important for academic success. For example, if you’re an early riser, scheduling a class earlier in the day can take advantage of your high energy level in the morning. Additionally, make sure to consider the amount of time your course work will take to avoid over-crowding your schedule.

Now that you have a personalized schedule, take steps to prepare and plan for your coursework. A great way to do this is by investing in an academic planner or datebook. By doing so, you are more likely to stay on top of your assignments and, therefore, experience less stress in your college life!

Balancing Your Academic Life Can Impact Your Finances

Expand your datebook horizons by trying out a budgeting planner. Keeping track of your monthly expenses can help you allocate the right amount of money towards food, housing costs, social activities, and other expenditures. Not to mention, developing great planning and organizational habits now can help prepare you to deal with future financial responsibilities.

 

Balance Your Work Life in College

Are you thinking about working during your college life? Here are a few things you should consider.

Working while in school is a great way to relieve some of your financial burden, helping to minimize the amount of any student loan debt you may have. However, it’s important to make sure you’re spending enough time on your academics in college. If your work hours cut into your studying time, it may be time to cut back on your job. A good way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to actively plan ahead. The Carnegie Unit equates one hour of lecture to two hours of work outside of class, making a 15-credit-hour schedule equivalent to 30+ additional hours. Acknowledging this, plan your work hours accordingly. This avoids the mistake of filling up all your additional time with work and forgetting to allocate hours toward homework.

Balancing Your Work Life Can Impact Your Finances

Planning ahead for your work schedule can help you determine how much money you have to spend monthly. It will also allow you to begin saving toward long-term goals. The earlier you start putting money away, the more you’ll have in savings upon graduation to put toward your necessities. Additionally, you can obtain the benefit of compounding interest by putting money into an interest-bearing savings account. Moreover, working while in school may enable you to pay off accruing interest on your student loans, potentially saving you thousands.

 

Balance Your Social Life in College

Getting involved socially on campus is a big part of the college experience. From expanding your network to participating in campus clubs, you’ll find many opportunities to grow socially. With so many things to do and so many opportunities to seize, it’s important to make sure you consider how much time you spend toward social activities. The Student Readiness Inventory (SRI) suggests setting internal priorities regarding academics to help you balance your social life. Additionally, SRI emphasizes that a student’s full-time job should be their schoolwork. Keeping social gatherings to primarily weekend time helps uphold academics as a priority during the weekdays.

Balancing Your Social Life Can Impact Your Finances

Engaging in social activities is a great way to meet new people. However, if you’re not careful, it can quickly drain your bank account. Coordinating with friends to meet on campus can reduce the temptation to head out and spend money. In addition, compartmentalizing your social life can help keep your weekend activities under wraps, effectively giving you more control over your finances and time.

 

In Summary…

Learning how to balance your academics, work, and social activities in college will fuel success throughout many other aspects of your life. These healthy organizational habits, some of which are outlined above, can also be carried into your future. This will help you to continuously practice effective planning and preparing routines even after college graduation. Additionally, the strategies you learn to help you balance academics, work, and social activities can be easily adapted to your financial life, forming you into a more financially responsible individual and potentially saving you a lot of money in the long run.



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