While it’s important to set aside money in a savings account just for education, you won’t be able to save much if you aren’t managing your money well. Get started with Learn More Indiana’s tips on creating a budget, repaying loans and more.
Create a budgetThe best way to save for college is getting in the habit of saving a little bit at a time on a regular basis. To get started, you need to create a budget. A budget tells how much you can afford to set aside after all your household expenses have been paid. Follow these steps to create your budget:
- Add up all your household income for one month.
- Add up your fixed expenses: essential costs like rent or mortgage payments, food, utility bills and car expenses, such as gas and insurance. These expenses shouldn’t vary too much month to month.
- Subtract your total fixed expenses from your total income.
- Take out an amount for college and retirement savings (as much as you think you can afford).
- The money that remains can be spent on flexible expenses, such as entertainment and eating out, or put in your “rainy day” fund for those unexpected expenses that always come up.
You can also create a budget with a smaller amount, such as your allowance. How much will you spend on movies or candy each month? If you spend less in those categories, how much will you be able to save for college?
If you’ve taken out student loans to pay for college, you should include your repayment amount in your fixed expenses. Use the basic loan calculator from FinAid.org, or explore all the calculators to find one that matches your specific repayment situation.
Budgeting resourcesFree online resources can help with budgeting, including the Student Budget Calculator and Family Budget Analyzer at FinAid.org.
Many money management software tools can help you save for college, too, but all you really need is a pencil, some paper and a commitment to keep saving.
Borrow wiselyEven after filing the FAFSA, receiving scholarships and using your savings for college, you may still have some college costs. If you’re considering borrowing, follow Learn More Indiana’s tips on borrowing wisely.
Repay responsiblyIf you’ve borrowed money for college, it’s important to repay responsibly. If you have federal loans, there are programs in place to help you out if you are unemployed or can only make low monthly payments, for example. Learn more about repayment options and calculating your payment, plus get good advice to avoid defaulting.