A College Student's Guide To Sorting Out Finances


Moving out from my parents' home and moving to a whole new town for college meant a huge deal to me, not only because I was throwing myself into a completely new situation of life and starting something that I've never known before, but also because I had much more responsibilities then and I only slowly realized how serious it actually was.

A very important and at times problematic point was that I had to take care of my own finances. I didn't have to deal with all of that before as my mother would take care of the finances in the household and just teached me how much money I could or could not spend. She was the one planning how much and what groceries to buy, she was the one paying the bills for our home, for our education, for electricity, the Internet.

And then I started my own household in my very own flat and kind of went crazy. I was terrible at my spendings and constantly felt bad. I don't have a shopping addiction or anything but I kind of just lost the control over the money that I had and the money that I gave away.

So mum helped me figure everything out and now I'm definitely doing better because now I'm actually also saving a lot more. If you're struggling with the same thing or want to prevent struggling with finances from the very beginning, this might help you!

Also note that this is a college student's guide to sorting out finances! I am pretty sure there are many more things about finances to deal with once I get older but this guide is what I put together from what I learned as a college student.

Jot down your expenses

The easiest thing is probably to jot down all your expenses first, preferably in a month. There are bills you have to pay, maybe tuitions, the Internet at your place, any flatrates for your phone. The mandatory stuff, you know?

And then add expenses you have when going grocery shopping, stationary shopping or clothes shopping. You should only add the necessary stuff like food, drinks, healthcare like medications and birth control pills, etc.

Other expenses like entertainment (cinema, clubs, theatre, museum visits, gallery visits, opera, sports), trips, books, clothes should be considered to be the expenses that you can make if you have no problem covering the mandatory costs.

So let's say your mandatory costs consist of electricity bills, rent, phone flatrate, the internet, food, drinks and healthcare and college tuition, you'll have to make sure you can cover all those before you go and buy that bag that you've had on your wishlist.

Making sure you can cover your necessary expenses first will help you see how much money you actually still have at the end of the day that you can spend on other things.

Jot down your income

After adding up your expenses, it's time to see how much income you make in a month. That's your salary from your part time job, financial help from your parents, support from the government for education and any extra income from your blog, your Youtube channel, spons and your selling on Etsy or Amazon.

Adding that all together, you'll have an overview of how much you can cover with the income you do have. The money you have left should be the only money you should grab to buy other things that are not too necessary but you'd like to buy. I would suggest always leaving some financial buffer for emergencies or for savings.

Keeping some money for your savings each month is great as well! It can be 50€, it can be just 5€, it doesn't matter.

Keep tracks of your expenses

I would suggest to keep all receipts every day and at the end of the day go through all of them and jot them down on a list so you won't forget. I know my cash card doesn't update its expenses during weekends so I tend to believe that I still have those 120€ left on the card when I've actually already spent 30€ of it. That mistake can result in a negative status which never looks good. So be on the safe side and note every expense you've made and calculate how much you still have.

An app to help with that

Spendee! I've used Spendee ever since I moved out and it is a cute app that helps you track your expenses. It's super easy. Basically you add a balance of how much money you have at the time you start using the app and each time you spend money on something, you'll add a transaction.

You easily press on a button to add a transaction or an income, then it will let you categorize that spending / income and it lets you save the transaction with a note, a picture or a location. Easily record where you spent the money and save a picture of the bill. You also get an overview of your balance and see in which categories you've been spending money the most. That will help you see and possibly narrow down the things you're spending money on.

Another feature of the app is to add budgets (perfect for trips and travel or events or even grocery shopping sessions with strict budgets) to document how much you still have left.

That is basically how I sort out my finances and how I keep track of my finances because that is actually my main issue with money! I lose the overview - I lose even more money. A bit control over all that is mandatory if you want to keep things in place and order. By the way, I use a good old Excel spreadsheet for the overview of my expenses and incomes.

I hope this helped a little! Let me know your struggles or tips in the comments!

Until then - spend smartly,

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