A picture with some books, a calculatoe and someone holding a pen: College Financial Planning Worksheet

College Financial Planning Worksheet

If you have been wondering about a college financial planning worksheet for students, wonder no more. This article explains everything you need to know about them. You will learn the importance of the worksheets for learners, the different templates, how to choose and use a template effectively, and tips for managing your college finances if your financial plan is to work.

It is said that experience is the best teacher. However, if you are a wise student, you want to avoid any bad experiences in college. That entails staying on top of everything, including your finances. There are many dangers of handling your finances poorly, and you want to avoid them. For instance, you can find yourself in deep debt that you might not be able to pay up. Also, you might experience financial pressures that can even force you to drop out of school. For these reasons, you need to take control of your finances early enough. The process is not easy, but you can achieve your goals by using a college financial planning worksheet. 

Importance of financial planning for students

Financial stability

Some students have no clue when managing their money, and they have it rough in college. On the contrary, others have had a chance to watch their parents take budgeting seriously and have learned a thing or two. Financial management is not as difficult, and it starts with small things like using your pocket money wisely. If you are fortunate enough to join a work-study program or work part-time, you need to appropriately use your hard-earned money. If you have been struggling with this, the college financial planning worksheet can help you out immensely.

Reduced stress

If you keep your finances in check, you will avoid financial stress resulting in higher productivity. You will also stay away from trouble.

Development of financial discipline

Proper financial planning in college will enable you to become a good manager, even in the future. You will likely spend your money appropriately even when you get a job in the future. That translates to the accumulation of wealth and savings over time.

Using your college financial planning worksheet effectively

To effectively use your worksheet, you first need to know the expenses to expect on campus. There are two types of expenditures.

Fixed expenses

These entail expenditure that covers basic needs from housing to food, utilities, transportation, and savings. Although they are all mandatory expenses, a reasonable budget will help you spend the least amount of money on quality services.

Variable expenses

These expenses vary from one learner to another. They include entertainment, health care, grocery shopping, clothing, eat-outs, and child care. Some of these you can do without, and you need to have your priorities right.

Then, it would be best if you were honest when filling the worksheets. It would help if you collected all financial statements from credit card transactions and all other expenditures, no matter how small. Fill all relevant categories in the worksheet columns and leave out those that do not apply to you. You can feel the weekly or monthly budget amount depending on your preference. Also, use your student budget calculator for accuracy. The following table shows a sample template that is simple and can be ideal for you.

TemplateDescription 
The first part is for declaring income.
This section covers fixed expenses.
This section covers flexible expenses.
The bottom part is for filling total amounts and the difference between income and the expenses.
Sample financial planning template from MomsBudget.com: college financial planning worksheet

Different types of budgeting worksheets

There exist different types of budgeting worksheets, and students are spoilt for choice. The good thing is that they are available in various formats from word to PDF, and you can download them on any of your devices. They are mainly grouped by period, and the expenses involve.

Monthly worksheets

Here, you can fill in their expenses every month. Categories include monthly budget and actual monthly expense and a column for the difference. You can quickly know if your budget is on track or not.

Weekly worksheets

Students fill these templates weekly. If you are forgetful or you like to know your expenses over the short-term, this is for you.

Both templates require students to give details on sub-categories such as utility bills, rent, transport expenses, cell phone bills, entertainment, and many more. Also, the display is different for each tool. Some even have charts that you can use to analyze your budget. Here is a table showing some examples of commonly used worksheets by learners across institutions of higher learning.

Choosing the right budgeting template

You now know that each worksheet comes with its unique display and requirements. Hence, you need to choose the appropriate one by considering the following factors.

Ease of use

You need a template that is simple to use according to your criteria. Ensure that you are comfortable with the display, navigation, and categories on your worksheet.

Cost

Also, there are free and paid templates. While most worksheets for students are free, there are some that you need to pay for. Hence, determine this before selecting one. There are many useful free templates that you can use or pay for if you want advanced features.

Tips for managing your finances in college

On top of using your college financial planning worksheet to manage your cash, you need the following tips to help you stick to your budget.

Avoid credit cards

The number one problem for college learners is the irresponsible use of credit cards. The cards earn huge interests that can accumulate into significant debts, and you need to be careful. Therefore, use them only when it is essential or avoid them altogether.

Limit your recreational expenses

College without memories is not worth it, and the memories are made of mostly fun times with friends. However, having a good time translates to spending some cash. You might be tempted to eat out, go for a movie, and use the excess money for other recreational purposes. You need to be strict and only spend what your college budget dictates; otherwise, you will soon be broke, making your college life miserable.

Buy used textbooks and utilize the library

You might also end up buying expensive textbooks leaving you without money for survival on campus. You need to have a budget if you are to achieve financial freedom. Budgeting helps you track your expenditure, and you can set limits. If you set a given amount for books, you can even buy second-hand ones to avoid overspending. You also get into a habit of saving if you have some extra cash at the end of the semester.

However, ensure that the used books you buy are in good condition. Also, take note of the publication dates and the edition. As much as you want to limit costs, you want to have the right books that your professor recommends.

It is also smart to borrow books from the library instead of buying them. All you need to do is register with the school library, and you can access the books. You can also get books from your local library at a small fee.

Prepare your coffee and meals

Research shows that college learners spend $1100 per year on buying coffee. The morning lattes and evening expressos come down to a significant amount of cash over time. Therefore, consider purchasing a coffee maker and prepare your coffee from your quarters.

Likewise, prepare your meals. Most student dorms and apartments have kitchenettes and cooking areas that enable students to cook meals. That helps eliminate the costs of eating out, which can be high. Although you might not like cooking, you can make it fun by asking your friends to help out. Also, try making your favorite dishes to enjoy the process.

Take advantage of the school cafeteria and free food

If you have to buy food, do it in your school cafeteria where it is cheaper than other restaurants. Also, take advantage of college events as some offer free food. If you also get a chance to work part-time in the cafeteria, take the job as meals are free for employees.

Utilize student discounts

Many companies offer students discounts on their products. For example, Dell and Apple offer some percentages of their products for learners with official school email addresses. Other brands that offer discounted prices include Amazon, J. Crew, Gap, and many more. Take your time to do thorough research and enjoy the benefits.

Sell unwanted items

You might have old books that you no longer use and would like to get rid of them. You can sell them on Amazon, eBay, and other sites if they are still in good condition. Other sites such as ThredUp and Poshmark facilitate the sale of clothes and closet items. To sell old furniture, household items, and technology, use Craigslist.

Having read this article, you can now agree that college financial planning worksheets are beneficial to students. There exists a variety of templates, but the choice lies with you. You also need to go the extra mile and use the template in conjunction with the top college-budgeting tips discussed herein.

Why does a budget matter?

Budgeting is important for your financial stability and so that you can be able to pay for your expenses like rent, credit card bills, tuition, student loans, and entertainment. It also helps you live within your means, meaning you’re not spending more than you’re making.

How much does an average college student need per month?

A college student will need an average of about $200 per month.

What are your financial goals as a college student?

Whatever you plan to do in your future, whether work or other activities. They should be realistic and enable you to fulfill your plan. Things like paying off credit card debt, student loans and having an emergency fund.