The real world is expensive. There are so many things you have to pay for, like everything!

Budgeting is a great concept. Almost everyone understands how to do it, but the budgeting practice, well, that’s a story of its own. It’s hard to budget on a meager amount of money. Everything is so expensive! OR nothing you really want anyway! Even your basic needs are expensive: food, clothing, toiletries, and household items. I’ m not even talking about designer products, either. These are just your basic of the basics.

So do you want to know how to budget on a college dime? Here are 3 tips to help keep your budget in check.

1. Pay Cash

Don’t use your cards. Debit cards and credit cards feel less like money and many don’t pay close enough attention to balances.

The older generations had a checks and balance system of the check book. Even if it meant writing debit card purchases down in the check book worksheet. It was a way to personally keep a check of your balances and money.

Now, we rely on the banks and credit unions to provide all that to us. And if the website goes down for one day and it’s close to pay day, who knows what may or may not be left in the account.

Then, to make it even easier to lose track of your money, instead of rejecting an overdrawn debit card, to spare you humiliation, my bank allows the transaction, debits you that amount and tacks on an overdraw fee.

Credit cards are a story of their own. That’s debt that you owe back. And the idea of “when I earn more, I’ll pay it all back” is great, but we rarely do that. We’re creatures of habit wanting more and bigger and better. It’s the way the world’s shaped us.

Cash helps you not go into debt, you’ll have enough if you have student loans and is a physical reminder.

2. Envelope System

The envelope system is a system of distributing your cash into a number of envelopes so you are budgeting how much you spend on each activity or bill.

You could have 5 envelopes or 50 envelopes. Though 50 is a bit extreme and would be hard to keep up with. But the idea is having envelopes for grocery money, bill money, spending money, and activity/date money.

This gives you a good idea of how much you can spend on extra activities and clothes or shoes. Money allocated for bills and groceries are important because bills impact your credit and you don’t want to get behind and owe more. And groceries, well, you need to eat food.

The extra money can be allocated between your spending/ shopping money and activity/date money. This is the money you can allow yourself to spend on clothes, shoes, makeup and dates, dinners with friends, movies and such without worrying about if you have enough for your groceries or electricity.

Keeping cash envelopes inspires more conservative spending. You can see exactly what you have left and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

3. Deposit Extras

Instead of spending every last dime every month, if you have some left over, deposit it. More importantly, try not to touch.

Depositing your extra money can be like a savings account or an emergency fund. That way, you have some extra in case you need something to fall back on. I relied on tips and sometimes they didn’t add up to what it should have.

Out of sight, out of mind really does work as long as you aren’t constantly watching it.

The Takeaway

Budgeting is hard. It’s really hard. Even after college with a “big girl” job, it’s still hard, but especially when you’re working and going to school. There just never seemed to be enough money.

Try out these tips to help you get a handle on your finances and where you’re spending your money. If you can pinpoint where you may be “wasting” your money, then saving it or changing your distribution habits can help you budget better.


Camille is one of the content writers and Mental Health & Lifestyle Editor for Tribe Twenty One. She is a freelance writer and has her Bachelor’s in Marketing and Master’s in Organizational Communications from Southeastern Louisiana University.

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