The Ramen-Free College Budget

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Mmmm. Salty goodness…

Apart from paying tuition, which is constantly on the rise, my peers and I pay for housing, food, gas, phone bill, car insurance, clothes and various activities we are involved in. For instance, my sorority dues average about $1,000 a semester and that’s not including anything extra, such as t-shirts or formals. So, how do we deal – other than eating Ramen with a bottle of Barefoot Moscato every night? We budget.

Personally, I use the envelope budget system, which is a really easy, DIY kind of system made famous by David Ramsey. Although, it’s actually been around since the Great Depression because people were afraid to put their money in banks.  In essence, you determine the categories you spend money on each week, create an envelope for each of them, and fill it with the amount of cash you have allotted for that category per week. I got pretty into it and decorated mine, but labels will work just fine. As a visual learner, this is a really easy way for me to see when I am running out of money in my budget versus sliding a magical card that keeps me in the dark. Plus, I like coming out of the bank every week with a bunch of dollar bills…like a boss.

Aside from keeping to my overall budget, I also save money by using my Moto X to hunt for bargains. Groupon is a great app, where you can instantly redeem deals and save 50%-70% on stuff to do, eat, see, or buy. RetailMeNot is also a nice app, where you can search for deals and coupons for over 50,000 retailers nationwide. Gas prices can vary up to 20 cents per gallon in the same area, which can really add up, but GasBuddy helps me find the cheapest pump nearby with a simple tap. I haven’t tried it yet, but a friend of mine also uses Savings Made Simple- Money App to do his budget. There are a lot of options out there and it’s easy to be financially fit if you know where to look.

So yes, even college students sometimes budget (some maybe more than others).  What programs and apps do you use to help you save?

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