Smart Money Tips When You're on a Ramen Budget

The journey to a college degree isn’t easy, but you can make sure that you aren’t drowning in debt at the end of it. Here are a few ways to smooth out the path ahead of you.

Adults often say that college is supposed to be a time to expand your mind and your experiences.

While that’s still true, it also comes with a lot more stress than it used to. You’re studying hard to keep a scholarship, getting student loans, probably taking on a couple of part-time jobs to fill the gaps in your budget. When that college student budget leaves you stuck eating ramen and cold pizza for most of your meals, you could use all the help you can get. Here are some money tips for college students to keep you on track to getting that degree without breaking down financially along the way!

Man plays with son dressed as a super hero.
1. Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach.

Grocery stores may be cheaper than going to a restaurant, but if you’re hungry, you’re likely to buy way more than you need. Go after you’ve eaten a meal - or at least a snack - so you don’t end up with 10 bags of those chips you’ve been eyeing.

2. Always pay bills on time.

This might seem obvious, but there’s always the temptation to put off bills and spend on something else, like a new game that just came out or going out with friends. However, those late fees will come crashing down on your fun.

3. Get roommates.

It isn’t always easy or fun to live with others, but this is one of the best financial tips for college students. It can save each of you money on rent and utilities. Moving in with friends would be preferred, but whether you’re strangers or not, communication is key to a comfortable atmosphere!

Man plays with son dressed as a super hero.
4. Pay yourself first.

Treat saving like it’s a bill, and deposit the same amount of money into your savings account every month. This will help in a myriad of ways: as an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, as a down payment for a future car or home, or as a way to pay off student loan debt sooner.

5. Shop where there are student discounts.

Find out the stores in your area that will give you a good deal for being a student. Keep your student ID with you wherever you go - even if they don’t notify you with a sign or on their website, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have discounts connected with your school.

6. Beware of student loan spending.

Avoid borrowing more than you need for tuition and other college-related purchases (books, dorms, etc.). Spending your loan money on unrelated expenses like clothing, vacations, or fancy dinners can lead to regrets once you have to start paying them off. More debt accumulates more interest, which leads to much higher monthly payments.

Ultimately, these tips for budgeting for college life all fall under the umbrella of “save more, spend less”. We know that’s no fun. It’s college! You need to live a little! It’s okay to treat yo’ self every so often. Splurge on some fresh ramen or hot pizza. Just make sure that your regular financial habits are more responsible. Your future self will thank you!

Man plays with son dressed as a super hero.

Sign up for a Journey Account with SunWest Credit Union and boost your financial health. Get $50 just for opening an account, plus access to financial education that will help you make smart money moves.

February 19, 2021

Published by SunWest Credit Union

penny for your thoughts

share a comment (or gif or emoji) on this post:

but wait, there's more

check out these other related posts

let's stay in touch, mmkay?

Explore more posts or ask your money questions; we'd love to hear from you!