Some of the best advice I can give you is to make a budget your first semester as soon as you get your dispersement before you spend any money. What I got in the habit of doing is taking out money for the week and going to the gas station or grocery store with exact change. It helps me to make sure I don’t spend more than I have. It makes shopping more complicated adding up everything as I go, but I never overspend.
Another thing I’d suggest is paying any bills that you can when you receive your money. I pay may landlord rent for the whole semester and I’ve worked out a deal with him where I give him a deposit for electricity, since it is in his name. He still sends me my electricity bill every month so I can see how much electricity I am using, which helps me cutback if it’s more than what I budgeted, and if I haven’t used the whole budget, he returns it to me. If I go over, he will present me with the total amount I owe.
I also got into the habit at the end of the last semester to withdraw cash for gas and groceries for the last few weeks of school all at once, so most of my bills are out of my bank account. I made envelopes, which I kept in a safe place, which had all the cash for the groceries for the rest of the semester. I even sent in my last 2 month’s internet payment (paid by check) in the beginning of April. It helps you see how much money you have left. If you’re going to be living with another person who isn’t receiving any income for bills here, this is probably a really good way to go to prevent over spending.
I’ve included a template for the budget sheet I made and have used for two semesters now. The school can provide you with one, as well, but I prefer the one I made. It seems a lot less complicated to me. Others like the one dispersed by the financial aid department.
If you have any questions about budgeting, please let me know! I love to make budgets and I love to update them. Money seems like it’s the one thing I can control here at Ross. Of course I can control my studying, drinking, etc., but it’s a constant thing that I get to manage well.