College can be expensive, and with the slow economy and employers more often insisting on a degree, it is also more necessary. Whether you are a looking to enter the job market for the first time, or whether you’re returning from a recent lay off, college is a necessity in the current job market. Not everyone lands a scholarship straight out of high school, or is lucky enough to have parents willing and able to pay for their tuition. So what if you’re one of those students who has to pay their own way through college and you’re not looking forward to getting a student loan?
Budgeting is the best option for paying for school. While it’s best to start saving as early as possible, sometimes it’s not feasible. I’ve been paying for college while paying off my debt and while the theory is easy, application can be tricky.
Cut all unnecessary expenses. You begin by figuring out what you spend your money on regularly. Figure out how much you need to spend on things like food, travel and entertainment. Cut you budget where you can. Love going to movies on the weekend? Get a Netflix account and watch movies at home instead. Don’t use your Internet very often? If you’re already using a smart phone, especially if it doesn’t need a wifi connection, cancel your Internet at home and use either your phone or the library for your needs.
Once you have cut back the expenses, talk to your bank and make it so that you can not overdraw. Overdraft protection is a big scam, so take the option away. Also make a plan so you can keep track of your expenses. Mint.com is a free website that is very useful for this. They can even send you email and text notifications of when your bank account hits a certain amount, or weekly notifications.
The third step is to plan out your payment plan. Some colleges allow you to break up the tuition into smaller payments, made each month. If your college allows you this option, take advantage of it. The fee for this is usually relatively small ($30 for my school) and if you’re paying for college paycheck to paycheck, it can be a great help to split up that payment into 3 or 4 intervals instead of one big payment.
The fourth step is to pay your college tuition immediately after you get your paycheck. It should be your first payment. This is essential because if you do this, it will help you get the payments taken care of before you have the chance to pay for anything else, you don’t have to worry about spending the money meant for your tution on other things.
There are other methods of budgeting for college, but these are the methods that work for me.