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college budgetting

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Grown Up Shopping List

It’s a part of growing up…suddenly realizing you need those things that you didn’t think about till you were preparing to head off to college: pricy necessities that you realize that mom or dad provided for you up until this point. But how do you know what to buy? And when to buy it? And where to find a good price? That’s what you’ll learn in today’s blog: how to make a grown up shopping list for those certain items you’ll need when you’re living on your own:

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

Luggage: While many of you can still borrow this from your parents or friends, it’s really nice to have your own pieces that you can take on short trips (especially if you plan to come back and forth on the weekends). We love a weekender bag like the one from Sole Society, that’s very chic but also roomy enough for a 2-3 day trip. It’s under $100 and you can find it HERE. If you need your own rolling suitcase, consider investing in a nice one from Nordstrom or Macy’s, where they often have coupons and online sales. We like this one from Macy’s, that is more of an investment, but it’s high quality

Iron: You can definitely get by in college without an iron of your own (we recommend having a mini or portable steamer), but having a good one is truly an investment you’ll use for years to come. Especially with the many occasions that come up in college or life on your own to wear professional clothes, such as scholarship interviews, job interviews, or work in a professional environment, you definitely want the chance to have clean and pressed clothing. This one from Black and Decker is awesome

Sheets: You can go A LOT of years with sheets with low thread count, but we bet that when you try some higher end ones, you will never go back! You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get ones with higher thread count and organic or Egyptian cotton, and you’ll be much more cozy than the $10 ones from Walmart. We really love the Hemstitch collection from Target, and they start at just $70 for a full size set. Most dorm beds are twin sized but if you’re lucky enough to have an apartment with a full, they are your best value. If you have an XL Twin in a standard dorm room, you can also try these awesome sheets from Bed, Bath and Beyond for under $30

Cooler: Another thing that you may not realize you need, but that’s super useful and something you will reach for often! You will be able to take a cooler camping, on trips, and even for days at the lake, for years to come. A smaller version will be just fine until you have a family of your own, and you want one that can easily fit in the trunk. Of course, the Yeti brand coolers are the very best, but they’ll set you back about $150 for a personal sized one. The Igloo brand is just as durable, although it won’t keep your food cold for days and days, and it is just under $30 at Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

A lock box or safe: A mini or portable box is a great idea, even just to have a fire-safe place for valuables. As you enter adulthood, you will start to have important papers accumulate, like licenses, passports, applications, etc, that you will need a place to store. Look for a fireproof box or safe, with a lock or electronic code. It is best to have one that attaches directly to the floor in a closet or under a bed, so no one can run off with it, but that is tricky in a dorm room. If you can, see if you can store your most valuable possessions at a family member’s home, and keep other replaceable valuables in your personal safe or lock box. 

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How to Make a Budget for College

College is expensive. Anyone who tells you it isn’t… is probably lying! Ha! It’s really a wise practice to make a budget for any season in your life, but especially in college. You will be well occupied with your class schedule, and may not even be working part-time while you’re in school. So, without a big income source, how will you cover those many expenses? That’s where a smart budget comes in: you will never wonder how to pay your bills, and you will always know what’s left in your month allotment. Here are our very best tips to creating a realistic budget as you leave home for the first time:

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

Figure out where your income sources are coming from: Whether you are working or not while in school, you will have some sort of “income” source. It can be money from your parents, a trust fund, your own job, student loans, or any other sort of incoming finances. If your parents are supporting you in college, be clear with your expectations and how much you will be receiving. It’s not a fun conversation, but its really necessary with family, so no one has unfair expectations about their roles. If you are working, be sure to factor in taxes and fees that come out of your check, before you estimate how much you’re really taking home.

Next, divide up your upcoming expenses into categories. You will have many categories when it comes to college, but here are our suggested basics: Room and board, textbooks and school supplies, transportation, clothing, and discretionary spending. Room and board would include: cost of living on campus, or an apartment with utilities such as power and internet. Textbooks and supplies can include anything that you need for school, so don’t leave out items like scientific calculators, lab equipment, or any special uniforms or clothing. Transportation can include your own car, public transport, and any associated fuel or insurance fees, and clothing is self-explanatory. Discretionary spending includes any entertainment, spending money, or extras such as dining out with friends. We would also recommend adding a category for your cell phone plan, if that’s something you pay for.

Match up your expenses to your income, and figure out where the gaps are: If you are unable to meet your basic needs with your income, you will need to figure out a secondary plan, such as cutting out things like clothing money, or taking on part time work, such as selling clothes on Poshmark, or babysitting or tutoring. If at all possible, avoid taking out additional student loans because of the interest rates. 

Track your expenses: Once you have a written or digital (like an app) budget in place, begin diligently tracking your expenses. You can often find out where your biggest pitfalls lie by looking at your online banking statements and matching them up to your categories. Before you leave for college, one of the wisest things you can do is to save a large nest egg up, in order to cover emergencies such as new tires, unexpected travel (especially if you live very far from home), or a medical crisis. We recommend at least $2000 as an “emergency” fund, although any more than that would be very wise as well. 

By being diligent about managing your money in college, you are setting yourself up for success in the rest of your life as well. College is not only useful to gain academic knowledge, but it is also an important time to create healthy habits financially! 

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