It’s funny looking back on my college experience that I didn’t choose to study finance because as a first generation student you take a crash course in personal finance on a daily basis. When I thought about budgeting for college in high school, the only things I thought about was working on getting enough financial aid that I didn’t need to worry about tuition and not hurting my father’s wallet. Being that I applied to schools that weren’t too far away from New York, I didn’t worry about transportation to and from campus. I didn’t put too much effort into thinking about building a budget before I got to college and still hadn’t made a game plan once the semester started until I got hit with so many expenses I needed to reference Kevin Hart’s joke “how my bank account is set up” to justify how broke I got. Freshman year I played myself and I can’t even lie being that I made all the classic freshman mistakes like buying a $300 economics textbook without knowing the slides were straight from the book, spending money on takeout, and trying to ball out even though I wasn’t working that many hours at my work study job.
Socially, I struggled to keep up with peers without showing the pain my pockets were feeling. I didn’t go on the big freshman retreat at my school, go out to clubs, or spend spring break in Cancun because I afford to do any of those things. Budgeting for books and transportation is one side of the coin when going to college but to get the college experience that’s advertised of becoming a socialite, studying abroad, and capturing those perfect moments for your Instagram then there’s additional costs that you have to plan for. Some tips I’ve used to ball on a budget are to take frugal advice from Julius in Everybody Hates Chris, finesse any opportunity that involves easy money like psychology studies or part time jobs, and utilize the resources on campus to get funding for your endeavors.
There may come times you’ll have to make tough sacrifices like choosing between buying two or three whole outfits as soon as you get paid or holding onto it for a rainy day but that’s one of the valuable lessons you’ll learn in college. One thing that has worked for me is making an effort to regularly check my bank account and establishing a minimum amount you will allow your account to go under before you decrease spending on all non-essential goods. You’d be amazed by how many people you’ll meet in college actually let their accounts run all the way till its in empty or going into the negative. It’s pretty hard to maintain a budget when you don’t have money to even maintain but if you enter college with the mindset to be your own financial adviser who also plays the angel on your shoulder then you’ll be in good shape to not run through money like someone who won the lottery.