Unexpected Expenses to Start Budgeting for Now

Unexpected Expenses to Start Budgeting for Now

Are you headed off to college? As the school year quickly approaches, it's a good idea to start looking at your college budget. You probably know you need to account for tuition, books, food and school supplies, but there are other unexpected expenses that can creep up.

Here are five unexpected college expenses to start budgeting for now.

1. Computer Software

As part of your college classes, you may need to invest in some new computer software to complete your assignments. For example, a writing or design class may require specific software.

Having the right tools to do your classwork is essential. But before purchasing any new computer programs, ask about a student discount, as many companies offer them. You can also use sites to help you get cash back when making any purchases online.

How much it could cost you:

Costs could range, depending on the type of program you need. Some programs have monthly subscription fees of about $20, whereas others may require a one-time cost of about $150 (some may be more, some may be less). Do your research on the best option and always ask for a discount.

2. Printing Costs

Your professors may accept digital submissions, but if not, there will probably be many printed pages in your future.

Students who own a printer need to consider the cost of ink and paper. New ink cartridges can be pricey and the expense can add up fast, especially if you need to print in color.

If you decide to do your printing on-campus, it's likely you'll have to pay for printing, as many college libraries charge per page.

To budget for your printing costs, estimate your printing needs for your classes. Arts and humanities majors may have more written assignments that require printing. The same holds true for visual art-related majors, such as photography and graphic design.

To get started, you can get a ream of paper, which has 500 sheets. Depending on your printing needs, you may need to change your cartridges every few months or at least once a year.

One way college students can save money on printing costs is by purchasing remanufactured ink cartridges.

How much it could cost you:

Printer paper can run about $7 for a ream of paper while printer ink can range from $15 to more than $100. If you print per page at school, it could average around 10 cents a page. Choosing a remanufactured ink cartridge could result in some serious savings, averaging about $10 per cartridge.

3. Laundry

Living with Mom and Dad, you probably didn't consider the cost of keeping your clothes clean, but living on your own means you're responsible for your laundry.

Dorms and apartment buildings alike typically charge per load to use the washer and dryer. You'll also need detergent, maybe dryer sheets (although doing without can be another budgeting hack) and a hamper.

College students can save money on laundry by only washing their clothes when they have a full load. Also, make sure your clothes are actually dirty. After wearing a shirt for a few hours, you may be in the habit of throwing it in the hamper, but it's probably okay to wear for a bit longer.

How much it could cost you:

Doing laundry could cost you around $3 per load to use a washer and dryer. Depending on the type of detergent you get, it could range from about $9 to $19. If you do laundry once a week, it could cost you more than $150 per year.

4. Social Outings

As a college student, your social life will likely bloom. Going out with friends is something you should budget for now. That way, when a new friend texts you to grab coffee and study, you can say yes with confidence, rather than turn down the invitation due to lack of funds.

To save money on social outings, you can also initiate the invitation and suggest doing something within your budget. Easy options that are not costly, or even may be free, include inviting classmates over for a potluck or heading out for a hike.

How much it could cost you:

A coffee date with a friend could range from $2 to $5 per outing. A lunch out can average around $10 per meal. Your social budget could easily be $20 per week, or $80 per month, depending on how often you go out. Try to opt for frugal or free activities and spend your money when it really matters.

5. Transportation Fees

If you have a car, you will likely need to buy a parking permit to stay on campus. If you're car-less, you should budget for public transportation costs and even rideshare programs if you need to go a further distance.

How much it could cost you:

An annual parking pass could be several hundred dollars per year. Public transportation costs vary by location, but is typically a couple bucks per ride. The average rideshare trip is around $12 to $13.

How to Create a Budget Now for the Unexpected

Creating a budget now can help you keep your finances under control in college. To get started, look at your income and expenses.

Whether you have a part-time job, an allowance or funds from student loans, understand how much money you are working with each month. Then, create a list of all of your expenses, including the ones above and project how much you will spend for each expense. Your total expenses should be less than your total income.

Once you have projected your college expenses, start to track your spending throughout the month. This can help you make sure you are on track with your budget.

You can track your spending on pen and paper, an online spreadsheet or through free budgeting software. Your budget is a living, breathing thing and can be adjusted month to month. For example, you may realize you are spending less on food and more on transportation and need to adjust accordingly. The point of a budget is to keep your spending under control and understand your expenses.

You Got This

Starting college is an exciting time and while you may be prepared to pay for the obvious expenses, you'll have other needs tugging at your wallet as well. But if you know the costs, and budget in advance, you should be well covered.