This post is all about spending money for college.
When you’re planning out your finances for college, oftentimes you’re just looking at the big expenses like tuition, room and board, and textbooks. While those things are important, it’s also a good idea to set aside some extra cash for spending money.
But how much spending money do college students need per month? And who should foot the bill for extra expenses?
In this post, we’ll go over how much spending money college students need. We’ll also talk about who provides this spending money, how to keep track of spending, and how college students can earn some extra cash.
How Much Spending Money Does A College Student Need Per Month?
So how much spending money does a college student need per month? Well, the answer definitely varies based on a number of factors, but the general consensus is that students need about $50 per week or $200 per month.
This number may be completely different for you, depending on a number of things:
- Whether or not you have a car on campus
- If you’re on the campus meal plan or you buy your own groceries
- How often you go out to eat or study at coffee shops
- Whether or not you include textbooks in the budget
And plenty of other factors.
If your student is a football player with a big appetite, you may find that they need much more spending money for snacks. Maybe your student has an internship off campus – they may need extra spending money for gas and parking costs.
The best way to determine how much spending money is right for your situation is to sit down and write down all of your predicted expenses. Then reevaluate your budget after a few months of college.
What Do Students Need Spending Money For?
If you’re a parent who is paying for room and board, you may be wondering what else your student will need money for.
The biggest extra expense will be social events and outings. This could be going out to eat with friends, buying a costume for a halloween party, Ubers or Lyft rides, movie tickets. etc.
Students will also need extra money for expenses like laundry, personal care items, school supplies, pharmacy items, etc. If your student will have their car on campus, they’ll need money for gas and parking.
Who Is Responsible For Spending Money For College?
It’s important to have a discussion about who is providing the spending money for college. The majority of my friends in college had to earn their own spending money. However, I did know a few people whose parents gave them a monthly allowance for spending money.
Make sure you have clear guidelines before the semester starts about who will provide spending money, how much money will be provided, and what it can be spent on.
For parents, it’s important to set clear boundaries around spending money. If the student blows through their spending money in the first month of school, you should make it clear that the fund will not be replenished and they will need to earn their own money.
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It’s a good idea to set your student up with a budgeting system so they have an easy way to keep track of their spending. My favorite apps for managing finances are Mint and Every Dollar.
The Mint app allows you to see all of your bank accounts and transactions in one place. This makes it easy to track your spending and see an overview your money habits.
Every Dollar is a budgeting app that lets you allocate where your funds will go each month. You can connect it to your bank accounts as well to keep track of what you’re actually spending money on.
If you’re a student earning your own spending money, I’ve listed a few ways to earn spending money for college in the next section.
How To Earn Spending Money For College
If you need to provide your own spending money for college, you’ll need to find a job. Here are a few ways to earn your college spending money before you head to college or while you’re a student.
Save Up In High School
A lot of students choose to work afternoons and weekends in high school to save up for college. You can build up a pretty robust savings account if you work throughout high school.
Some good, high paying jobs for high school students are:
- Working at a grocery store
- Restaurant jobs
- Working retail
I worked a bunch of different jobs in high school to save up money for college. I worked at my local grocery store, babysat on the weekends, worked at a pool, etc.
By the time I started college, I had a pretty decent savings account built up that allowed me to have some spending money each semester.
Work Summer Jobs
If you’re already a college student, you can make a good amount of spending money during your summer breaks. Unless you’re taking summer classes, you can work and earn money for the entire summer.
A summer job should allow you to make about $2000-$3000 over the course of the break. If you’re able to find a full time job, you may make a lot more than that!
Some lucrative summer jobs are:
- Working events
- Painting houses
Pretty much everyone I knew in college worked a summer job. It’s a great way to supplement your college spending money and keep busy during your break.
Work During The School Year
If you don’t have too heavy of a course load, it’s a good idea to work a part time job during the school year. Working during the school year can help supplement your spending money, even if it’s just a few hours per week.
Keep an eye out for jobs on campus that you can apply for. Most colleges hire students for jobs in the dining hall, coffee shops, library, etc. You can also try to get a job as TA if there are any subjects you’re very knowledgeable about.
If you don’t want to get a job on campus, you can also check out businesses near your campus to see if any are hiring.
Check with local restaurants, coffee shops, bars, schools, and retail stores to see if there are any jobs available. Off-campus jobs typically pay more than on-campus jobs, plus it’s a good excuse to get off your campus and away from student life for a few hours per week.
While having spending money can be nice, your studies should be your priority in college. If you find yourself getting behind in your classes, it may be time to cut back on your hours at your job. You can always try to make more money in the summer when you don’t have classes to worry about.
When To Revisit Your Spending Money Budget
It’s important to revisit your spending money budget at least once per school year. You may find that your original estimate was a bit off, or your spending needs may have changed.
Go over your spending and see if what you originally budgeted covers your expenses. Maybe gas prices went up, so you need to budget more for transportation. Your meal plan may have run out, so now you need to add more room in your budget for food.
This is also a good time to see where you can cut back on your spending. If you find that you’re spending a lot of money on coffee shops, you could buy a coffee maker and start making your own coffee in your dorm room. Maybe you find that you’re spending too much money on parking, so you decide to leave your car home next year and use public transportation instead.
It’s tempting to just never check your bank accounts and hope that you’re staying within your budget. But it’s important to keep a close eye on your finances to avoid any surprises. It will also help you build good financial habits, which is so important for the future.
This post was all about budgeting spending money for college.
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