We hope you'll find the following FREE college student budget template
the most intuitive one out there. If not, tell us what we did wrong here.
This was made for college students who find budgeting to be daunting and who have allowed their finances and their stress to accompany one another.
We're fond of this familiar story: As the school year progresses, your funds diminish and your anxiety heightens. You worry persistently about your limited finances and whether it’s enough, affecting the daily decisions you make involving money and activities.
Slowly your grades fall and your social life begins to tumble
It's no wonder that 70 percent of college students are stressed about their personal finances, according to this national survey. A college student budget is necessary for peace of mind.
So we made this college student budget template to help you know in no uncertain terms three things: (1) how much you can spend; (2) how much you should save; (3) and how much more money you need.
*This can be used for any type of saving goal you have as well, whether it's for travel, studying abroad, etc.
This is budgeting 101.
Don’t worry– it’s automated and you get weekly budgeting tips based on your budget.
Be happy– you’re about to take charge of your life.
Step 1 - Setting up your college student budget template
Let’s get started.
Before you do anything, sign into your Gmail.
Then open our College Student Budget Template.
Click File > Make a copy > OK.
You now have a copy of the only college student budget template you will need for the rest of your school career.
We're just getting started.
This guide will give you step-by-step instructions on how to use the template, but in order to get the most out of this you need to actually use it.
We’re going to make you stay on top of your weekly budget and monthly budget. Consistency is key.
So do these four things right now:
1) Bookmark the college student budget template on your computer
2) Bookmark the college student budget template on your cellphone
3) Rename it to make it your own (Ex: Samuel’s College Budget Sheet)
4) Set up an alarm on your phone for every day of the week at a convenient time and label it ‘Update Budget Sheet’
Send your friends a copy too. You'll hold each other accountable.
Even better, synchronize your alarms.
*NOTE: The only cells you need to fill in the template are the cells with a double-lined border. You don't need to fill anything else in; we got that part covered.
Step 2 – Creating a budget
Go to the ‘Budget Overview’ tab and answer these four questions:
Now, fill in the monthly payments you have, which are the things you pay a fixed amount for consistently every month. (student loans, cell phone, car insurance, tuition and fees, room and board, etc.). It could be a good idea to also include an emergency fund.
Next is setting up your weekly budget.
Based on what you earned and spent last week (job, parents, eating out, groceries, etc.), make an educated guess on how much you typically spend and earn on a regular week. Use your bank statement as reference.
Record this in your 'Expected Weekly Budget' and this will give you a good idea on where your money will come from and where it will go.
Notice that your Monthly Payments category (in the "What I Spent" section above) is automatically filled based on what you entered in the Fixed Monthly Payments table.
Based on your expected weekly budget, your daily, weekly and monthly budgeting goals should be calculated for you here:
Step 3 – Calculate money in, money out
How much did you earn so far this month?
Now you’re going to need to see plainly where your money actually comes from, where it goes and how much.
The beauty of this college student budget template is that it's so simple to do so.
Let's focus on the month you’re starting in.
In your college student budget template, click the 'Month 1' tab and type in what month you're starting in.
Again, using your bank statement as reference, add how much you earned into each category matching the weeks you’ve earned them.
Whatever categories you filled in the 'Budget Overview' tab will transfer over to every other month (everything in the What I earned, What I spent, Fixed Monthly Payments sections) so you don't have to type it again.
But, if anything changes month-to-month (you're not paying for Netflix anymore, or you got a tutoring job, etc). you can always add/remove the categories in each month's tab.
After that’s done, how much you’ve earned each week and how much you’ve earned throughout the month is calculated automatically for you.
It's up to you if you want to break down your financial aid by week or by lump sum.
How much did you spend so far this month?
Next, move on to what you spent and fill out each category using your bank statement and any receipts you may have for each week.
You'll see The Fixed Monthly Payments table will be automatically calculated. Again, if you need to update it, feel free to do so in the month you're in.
Summary of month’s budget
The only thing you need to do here is state how much money you began the month with.
Great! Now you have an accurate picture of how much you spent and how much you earned so far this month.
But the best part is what comes next.
To the right, you'll begin to see the 'Weekly Budgeting Tips Feed' populate with insightful financial advice on your monthly tracker.
Now you have your very own financial advisor in your college student budget template to advise you on how to budget money as a college student.
The beauty is that this college student budget template will compare your actual weekly spend with your original budget and tell you whether you’re on pace to meet your budget goal based on your current rate of spending and earning.
It will also give you tips and recommendations on what needs to be changed if needed. If not, it will just tell you to keep it up.
But if you feel that you can’t reasonably reduce the amount you spend any further, you should look for ways to earn more to make up the difference.
If you're looking for side hustles and ways to earn more during school, you could always get paid for your notes. Why not get paid to do what you already do?
You'll be helping out other students, and it only takes a few minutes out of your day.
Managing your financial stress
Money tips from OneClass
Bring out the extreme couponer in you and hold on to any coupons you can get your hands on. A lot of these coupons can usually be accessed through the restaurant’s app if they have one so you don’t have to hold onto physical coupons. Saving a few dollars every time you eat out can add up quicker than you might think.
Many fast food restaurants have daily specials that you should always consider before eating out. For example, there’s Subway’s sub of the day, Popeye’s daily specials, etc. Just make sure to do a quick google search to check out the specials before you buy!
An obvious one but easier said than done, cooking can save you hundreds of dollars a month. Just by spending a few hours a week doing some meal prep, you’ll have delicious, healthy, and inexpensive meals ready to eat. Who knows, maybe you could be the next Gordon Ramsay.
Apply for grants and scholarships-
With many scholarships and grants going unclaimed every year, taking a few hours to apply could result in you receiving thousands of dollars, for free. Always check your school’s database for scholarships, grants, and bursaries that you’re eligible for and when you’re done there, check externally. Trust us, it’s definitely worth your time.
You can also start your search here from a list of US college scholarships we compiled.
Actively ask for student discounts-
Whenever making any purchase, always ask if they offer any type of student discounts. As long as you have your student ID handy, many stores and restaurants offer discounts for students. You just have to ask!
If you’re in Canada, check out this list of 500+ Student Discounts available for Canadian students.
Find Passive Income - notetaker
If you just need more money coming in to pay for your expenses, why not get paid for doing something that you already do?
By simply uploading your notes onto OneClass, you can get paid for it. Help yourself and help others by sharing your notes with classmates.
Sell used items-
If you have any used/old items laying around that you don’t use anymore, sell them! Instead of collecting dust in the corner of your room, those items can turn into cold hard cash.
There are many platforms you can do this such as the Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Kijiji, Letgo, etc.
Money and stress management tips from professionals
Slow Down and Remain Calm
Realize the situation you're in and take a moment to sit down and think. Focus on your situation and don't let bad or negative news about the state of the economy lead you to make decisions based on your emotions. Stay objective and stay focused.
Identify your Financial Stressors
Analyze your particular financial situation and identify what is causing you financial stress. What expenses are the biggest? Are they necessary? Can you reduce them at all? Are there any cheaper alternatives?
Make a Plan
After identifying your financial stressors, create a plan (such as a college student budget template) on how to reduce your expenses and stick to it. Whether it's spending less on entertainment or cooking more, the only thing that matters is that you commit to your plan as a college student budget doesn't necessarily give you financial freedom.
Writing your plan on paper or on your computer (college student budget template, milestones to hit, etc.) and committing to it can actually reduce your stress since you're more aware of what is going on with your financial situation.
Notice your Response to Financial Stress
With stress comes unhealthy coping activities. Drinking, smoking, gambling, over-eating, are all activities that can not only amplify your financial stress, but it can also lead to non-financial stress such as conflict and arguments with the people around you. Be aware of your negative coping activities and make sure they're not causing you more stress (monetary and non-monetary).
Turn your financial stress into a learning experience. Realize that this situation can help you make some much-needed changes to your lifestyle that will end up helping you in the long run. If you've never used a budget template for college students, maybe using it will help you become more finance-minded and aware of your finances.
Professional and Personal Support
Talk to your friends and family and professionals such as financial planners to help you take control of your finances. Always know that there are people out there to help you in times of need.
Money and stress management tips from students
On top of the college student budget template (that you should already be using), we asked 96 college students how they manage their money and their stress.
Here are a few great tips we gathered:
What are your money SAVING tips for college?
"Buy stuff from the dollar store.
Wait a week before buying your textbooks, you may not need them! Or even better, get a used one.
Budget and keep track of spending on an excel sheet."
– Danielle, 3rd year student, McMaster University
What are your money EARNING tips for college?
"Sell your notes or services."
– Sara, 1st year student, University of Toronto
What are your stress-management tips for college?
"Exercise, get 8 hours of sleep, make a schedule/plan, put away all distractions when doing homework, eat meals with friends to destress".
–Rebecca, 1st year student, UCLA
You can see all of the responses here from fellow students.
Managing your finances IS managing your stress
What you're building towards with your college student budget template is peace of mind.
Paying for your groceries and waiting to see if your payment goes through could be a lot less unsettling. It really could be.
With a college student budget in place you'll be on top of every dollar going in and out of your bank account, knowing fully well if the next thing you purchase or do is something you can afford or something you should pass on.
That is the level of certainty we're trying to bring you up to with our college student budget template because uncertainty is a cruel, cruel feeling.
You can't plan with uncertainty. It passively submits you to things that you didn't ask for when you should be making decisive choices that dictate your circumstances. More importantly, uncertainty slowly erodes your confidence as it loosens the control you have over your life the more you allow it to be involved.
And so you become stressed.
That is why this college student budget template is important. It lets you pull in the reins again.
The sooner you start using this college student budget template, the sooner you'll have control over your finances and in turn, your life.
P.S. If you live with housemates who you share costs with (utilities, cleaning supplies, etc.), send them our guide. This way they'll be less likely to miss payments that would affect you too.
Take control of your finances with this incredibly intuitive college student budget template.
Go to the budget overview tab and fill it out.
Go to the tab that matches the present month and fill it out.
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