Whether you’re just starting your college career or in the midst of brand-new bills and loan payments, it’s never too early to learn how to budget your life. Here are five simple tips to help you find ways to budget your college life.

Use Mint

Even if you’re still in college, there are bound to be a few bills to contend with. After all, you might be paying your own way.

Regardless, Mint.com is the most amazing budgeting software I’ve ever used. You have to be willing to share essential banking information, but it compiles every single card you swipe into one easy-to-read statement, and categorizes your purchases by type.

You can set budgets for different categories, create savings goals, and manage your student loan debt. I’ve got credit cards, PayPal, student loans, and even my direct deposit payments linked to my account, so I can easily see exactly what’s going on with each account, in one place.

RelatedHow to Be Frugal in College

Shop in Bulk

Everybody needs toothbrushes, toilet paper, and shampoo, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy these items in bulk. Buy a lot when they go on sale at your grocery store, or hook up with somebody who has access to a Costco or Sam’s Club card.

It may seem crazy to spend $22 on toilet paper, but you won’t have to buy it again for a year! This is best for toiletry items, as well as dry goods like beans, grains, and nuts, and frozen items like veggies and chicken.

Eat at Home

Now that you’ve got all those awesomely cheap items in bulk, it’s time to cook at home. If you take just a little time on Sunday to prepare a fresh meal, you can eat on pennies every night of the week.

Make a little vegetable chili with beans, tomato sauce, and frozen veggies, or a simple Mexican chicken casserole. Recreate your favorite meals from Panera, or simply toss together veggies and pasta and you’ve got a much cheaper and healthier meal than you’d find anywhere else.

Related10 Cooking Hacks To Get More Bang For Your Buck

Shop at Marshall’s

This one took me awhile. I hated the idea of sifting through rack after rack of disorganized clothing, and I opted to buy nothing new instead. However, when your internship requires a fitted suit, or you have to walk a mile in heels, you sure can’t shell out $300 for the high-quality stuff.

Hit up Marshall’s, Loehman’s, TJ Maxx, or Nordstrom Rack for really high quality stuff at excellent prices. Everything their commercials say is true, and I’ve never been happier with a pair of shoes than the awesome $25 Steve Maddens I found at Marshall’s. No joke, $25.

Add to Savings

The more money you have in your checking account, the more money you’re likely to spend. Even if you’ve only got a little money leftover each month, put a chunk of it into savings right away. Most banks have the option to set up a recurring transfer from Checking to Savings, so you should definitely set that up.

Start with $25 a month, and by the end of the year, you’ll have $300 in your account. If you get a bonus, a tax return, or a lot of birthday money, put at least 50 percent of that into your savings before you even have the chance to think of ways to spend it.

Related3 Savings Methods That Help You Get What You Want


Image: Ken Teegardin