One major struggle college students face is making a realistic budget and balancing their time between school and work.  College students make be experiencing their first taste of financial freedom, and unfortunately, this is where some dire mistakes can happen, placing them in financial crisis later on. Share these ideas for budgeting money and time with your students.

Getting started

If you have never tried living on a budget before, you may have no idea where to start.  According to Wells Fargo financial experts in their article, “Budgeting for college students,” there are four easy steps to figuring out where you stand financially.

1. Track your spending. Before you can create a budget, you need to know and be honest about what you are spending. Write down or track all your expenses for a month in a spreadsheet to see where your dollars are going.

2. Make a list of expenses/income. Once you know what you are spending, make a list of the required expenses vs. how much income you have.

3. Do the math. Now comes the hard part: compare what you have to pay out with how much money you have coming in to see if you have enough to cover all your expenses, or if you need to make some cuts.

4. Make adjustments. A budget is a living document, so your expenses and income will change. Be prepared to go back and adjust your budget as these changes happen.

Balancing school and work

Learning to balance your time between school tasks and work responsibilities is not an easily learned lesson, and it often takes a little finessing.

Make a schedule. If you’re a full-time student and work part-time, plug your weekly work schedule into your calendar. Next, plug in time to study or complete homework. If you foresee there not being ample time to complete your schoolwork in the week, it may be a good idea to try to switch out your work schedule one day.

If you work full-time and are a part-time student, start with plugging your work schedule and other commitments (family, child care, etc.) into your calendar. Then, plug in the times you need to devote to the week’s schoolwork. If schoolwork does not fit in, consider taking fewer hours next semester, seeking help with your other commitments, or seeing if your employer may be flexible to your education needs.

Defining priorities

Make sure all of your academic and career goals are in order and outlined clearly and know what you want to get out of school and work. This will help you balance your energy. If the result of a decision will hurt your goals, you’ll know the right choice to make. When it comes down to it, it’s a good idea to treat school like it is your job. Whether its full-time or part-time, it’s critical that you put your all into it. So avoid “calling in sick” (skipping class) every time you’re not feeling up to it.

What other advice do you have for students balancing their finances and school work? Share your ideas below.