College: Livin' on a dime

Allison Perkins


Looking back to when I was a college freshman, there were so many things I wish I had known. I wish I’d known how to parallel park, that fried chicken in the cafeteria was on Tuesday, the Freshman 15 is certainly not a joke, and that studying would require much more than the 10 minutes of time I gave it in high school. But mostly, I wish someone had explained to me how to budget my money well.

In economics class in high school, we were forced to watch whatever Dave Ramsey videos my teacher decided were important.  And even though we didn’t pay attention at the time, we should’ve. It would’ve been a good start to learning how to save money before we even got to college.

There are numerous ways that one can go about saving money and budgeting out a spending plan, but my personal favorite is the cash envelope system.

Walmart sells almost-pocket-sized holders that have dividers already built into them. And for me, these are much more efficient than having completely different, non-attached envelopes. I could put all of my cash into the separate pockets and throw it in my purse or backpack without having to worry about if I had all of my envelopes or not.

But down to the actual budgeting, each tab should be used for a different area that needs money. “Groceries,”  “Night Out” and “Fast Food” seem to be the top ones that people use. And as an example, this is how mine is set up.



“Nights Out”

“Fast Food”





It definitely works.

I work as a waitress, and therefore I set mine up every week to where I give a certain percentage to each tab. Obviously, groceries and gas would need the most money, so I plan it that way, 30 percent each way. As for what’s left, divvy up your money in the most honest way. No one is going to be looking at your money but you, so why not give your clothing tab a few extra dollars instead of the one for your classes?

Either way, the most important thing about setting up a budget is actually using it. It doesn’t matter if you take all the time in the world to perfect your budget, if you don’t actually stick to it and not go out when you only have $2 left in that tab.

College is a great deal of fun, but it’s not going to be as remarkable if you wake up one morning and have to eat chips for breakfast because your grocery money was spent on a trip to the bowling alley, dinner date at Umi,  and movie tickets.