Semester spending: How it all breaks down

College expenses: How do your semester spending habits compare?

Think you’re spending too much? Here’s what the average college student spends on basic living expenses in one year.

Though college students are stereotyped to eat ramen for dinner and live on notoriously tight budgets, your discretionary spending certainly adds up and has an economic impact: A recent study shows college students’ discretionary spending continues to rise, topping $207 billion in 2016, on everything from apparel to food to rideshare costs.

One way to control that discretionary spending is through budgeting. If you’re new to budgeting, there are some simple tips you can start with:

1. Track your spending habits. Simply put, budgeting is projecting (and controlling) how much you’ll spend. A good way to make budgeting predictions is to track your past spending habits, from big ticket items (like car payments, credit card bills, etc.) to the small stuff (like last minute lunches, ice cream runs, etc.). Wells Fargo My Money Map can be a helpful to start mapping and categorizing your spending.

2. Always check your bank account. It’s important to keep a watchful eye on your bank account not only to get a sense of your cash flow but also to protect yourself against any suspicious or fraudulent activity. Wells Fargo Account Alerts are an excellent tool to help you stay on top of your account activity. Plus, use Control Tower to get an overview of all your recurring payments, and cut unnecessary costs.

3. Challenge yourself.  Get creative and find new ways to make budgeting fun. Consider partaking in a no-spend challenge even if it’s just for a day. Like one of our writers, you might decide you like the challenge so much that you extend it for a month!

So how do you stack up next to your fellow college students when it comes to budgetary breakdown? Take a look at the numbers below to see the typical spend of a college student — and exactly what that cash is funding.

Learn more about managing your college finances through the Beyond College webinar series.

Related articles