To those who are used to saving money, prioritizing their spending might almost seem second nature.  They hardly have to think about it, or it only takes but a moment to sort through the various regular expenses in their head and put some order to them.  However, to many others, this task isn’t so easy, especially for those venturing off to college, and environment in which they might have that first real taste of being on their own.

It can take time and some thinking to put expenses into some sort of order of importance.  Doing so though, can help keep costs in line, begin to pinpoint to where and how you spend, as well as possibly discover that it makes it easier to budget for expenses, and keep an eye on just how much money was flowing out of your coffers.

Cost of Living

Generally, cost of living expenses will likely come as your highest priority, since without being able to cover them you wouldn’t have much of a quality of life.  Therefore, items like tuition, rent, books, utilities, food, and similar items may top the list of your prioritized expense list.


For many, insurance costs may come in at a close second on their list of prioritized expenses.  Vehicle, homeowner/renters, and health insurance are high priorities on many peoples expense list.  They not only help provide financial security in the event of an accident or health issue, but peace of mind even when they’re not needed.

Holidays/Special Occasions

What would life be without those special occasions once in a while?  A friend’s birthday party, an anniversary with a significant other, the holiday season and time spent with family, a best friend’s wedding, and similar events are often what the memories of life are made of.  Therefore, while not necessarily giving these top prioritize on a spending list, you may consider giving such events a bit more weight on your list than more selfish expense items such as vacations and entertainment costs.


Toward the lower portion of a spending priority list might come items like travel and vacation expenses.  Given, many people like to travel and certainly like to be able to go on a vacation once in a while, but going without such items isn’t likely to be the end of the world when it comes to expenses.  Being able to cut such lines from a budget when times are tough probably won’t be all that much of a hardship.

However, being able to plan smarter when it comes to this category may allow students to incorporate travel to see friends or family while making the experience a vacation as well, pairing the two events and cutting expenses by being able to eliminate hotel costs.  Taking it a step further and conducting cost comparisons between flying and driving to a destination could help make the most of this spending category.


It’s hard to deny that we all need a little entertainment and fun in our lives.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  We all have to treat ourselves to something special once in a while if for nothing else but to keep our chins up and maintain our mental health.

However, there’s a difference between maintaining a reasonable entertainment budget and going overboard.  Even just $100 a month could be enough for things like going out to eat with a friend, grabbing some takeout from a fast-food joint, heading out for a movie, going camping or canoeing, and similar events, that while fun, could easily be nixed from the budget or at least greatly reduced without involving too much hardship.

Disclaimer: The author is not a licensed financial professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.