Four Fast Fixes for Busted College Budgets

It’s only a couple of months into your college year, and yet you’re already struggling to follow your college budget. And you aren’t alone. Many students wrestle with their college budgets: According to an Ohio State University study, seven out of 10 college students feel stressed about their finances.

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Ignoring your situation will just make it worse. Before digging yourself further into debt, take a look at your current spending habits and make a plan to get yourself back in the green. Follow these four tips to take action and fix your college budget crisis fast.

 1. Sell Your Stuff

Whether it’s old textbooks, small electronics, clothing items or sports equipment you just don’t plan to use this year, selling your stuff online or through your local college classifieds can help you raise money quickly to pay off whatever you overspent on.

Or try Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or eBay — three online platforms to post your items for sale. Make sure to include pictures and a detailed description of your item. Doing so will increase the amount of online traffic to your ad, and boost your chances of selling it fast.

If you have trouble selling your used textbooks online, check your college bookstore to see if they run a “buy-back” program. This may help you raise some quick cash to supplement your college bug.

 2. Revise Your Future College Budget

A busted college budget means you’re either overspending on your current budget, or you made an unrealistic budget to begin with. Take a careful look at the spending patterns that got you to this point and adjust your future college budget if necessary.

If simple overspending has been the problem, try using cash and leaving your credit cards at home some days. Using real currency and limiting the temptation to overspend on your credit cards will help curb your spending habits. As you begin saving with your revised budget and better spending habits, apply any surplus funds to pay down your current credit card bills.

3. Take on Short-Term Work

Another quick way to raise money to overcome your college budget deficit is to find short-term work opportunities.

Things like helping a senior with fall yard work, or working security at a campus event (like a college football game) can help you earn enough money to get back on track with your college budget, without taking too much time away from your studies.

4. Remove or Replace the Temptation to Overspend

Track your spending carefully to identify exactly what you spent money on that caused the budget-busting in the first place, and remove the temptation to do it again. Take note — this is easier said than done. For example, if you tend to overspend when going out with your friends several nights each week, limit this to one night a week. Or invite them to your place and do something that doesn’t cost as much.

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Other common budget-busting factors for college students include:

  • Eating out at restaurants
  • Buying snacks on campus during the day
  • Shopping

Limit your meals to the dining hall, or prepare your own food each day. Bring snacks to campus daily to avoid coffee shop spending. Learn to separate your needs from your wants, and shop for your needs first.

By catching your budget crisis early, you’ll still have lots of time to correct your financial course this year. With a combined action plan of boosting your income and cutting your costs, your college budget should soon be back on track.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

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