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How I Manage My Personal Spending As a College Student

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Plattsburgh chapter.

The lure to buy new clothes, keep with the trends, buy takeout and even to purchase necessities is constantly weighing on college students. When a person chooses to pursue a degree and continue their education, worrying about finances is inevitable, but just like exercise, homework, and even showing up for class, it takes an essential skill — discipline. 

“Maybe there’s a trip or a concert you want to attend, how do you plan and budget for that?” Sara Munson, regional procurement training and outreach coordinator at SUNY Plattsburgh, said. “The fun stuff is why you budget, so you have money set aside and you don’t have to take away from your food budget for the week.”

Create a budget

The first step to consider when managing your funds is to ask yourself where the money is coming from. For most busy college students, it’s a summer job, a part-time job during the semester, scholarships, or loans.

 “If I had looked at my finances when I was making less and had less bills, it would have been easier to figure out my budget and what I need to live,” Munson said. 

Laying out a budget can help you understand your spending habits and see the total amount left for the time period. This is helpful because it creates a more mindful process when making purchases. 

once an income stream is established, set aside a bit for emergencies. After, divide it evenly based on your time-preference: quarterly, monthly or weekly. There are many apps people can use to track your budget, however, I prefer a simple spreadsheet using google sheets.

Utilize resources on campus 

As a senior in college, I would recommend utilizing your school’s resources. For example, SUNY Plattsburgh offers work-study jobs, applied learning grants, and part-time job fairs to benefit students. I have used all of these resources throughout my time at college.

“Research and knowledge is everything because you don’t know what you’re missing out on,” Munson said. 

These financial aid opportunities were available to me and I went out of my way to look for them. These resources are here to support students to ensure education can be their primary focus. 

Find a side hustle 

Side hustles will not be enough to cover monthly spending, but they can be beneficial if spending is a bit high during a period. Babysitting, dog sitting, and delivering food are good options for students because these jobs allow people to make their own work schedule. 

“Sometimes, just the discovery of trying new things is beneficial because then you could be like, ‘Oh I’m glad I tried this because I know this is not something that fits for me,” Munson said. 

Debt is not an uncommon trap to fall into, especially for college students trying to prioritize their education. Financial responsibility can be overwhelming and scary, but knowledge is power. Creating a budget can help you prioritize and understand your spending habits. To establish a budget now is a proactive step to help save you from worse financial situations in the future. 

Johanna Weeks

Plattsburgh '24

Hello! I'm Johanna Weeks, a senior attending SUNY Plattsburgh. I am currently studying Journalism and Public Relations. I am the managing editor of our tourism magazine - DoNorth. In my free time I enjoy spending time with friends, reading or checking out coffee and thrift shops.