It was the biggest check I’d ever held in my life. And it was made out to me.
It was what was left of my student loan money after my university tuition and expenses had been paid. And it looked like a lot of money.
I was a college junior, living in my first apartment, with three roommates. That money was supposed to last me an entire semester. It seemed like enough. Well, it was probably enough. Heck, I was 20—I had absolutely no idea.
My roommates and I all had student loans. So, first things first. We each took out five month’s worth of rent ($750 each) and enough money to cover utilities and shared household expenses for the semester (another $150 each, we were guessing) and put it aside in a separate bank account. Untouchable. Only to be used for rent, heat and toilet paper.
Okaaayy. Now I had just $800.
Well, I got a part-time job, and things were tight, but I did OK. I consider myself lucky that I didn’t have the additional expenses of a cell phone or the Internet.
When you have student loans, it’s easy to get giddy when you see that big check. You forget how quickly it gets gobbled up by everyday expenses.
If creating a real budget seems too overwhelming, it definitely helps to do what my roomies and I did—put aside enough cash to cover the biggies: rent and utilities. If you have to open a separate bank account for it, go ahead. It will give you a much more realistic idea of how much money you have to stretch over the whole semester.
Those of you with student loans, tell us: How do you budget your student loan money?