I had really high hopes going into college that the money I had in my savings account would never run out! I'd had a job both my junior and senior year of high school and tons of money saved. I'd gotten lots of graduation money in addition to that; in my mind I was basically set for life. After about a month at college, I realized how skewed my estimation of spending was.
Important things that I forgot to take into account beforehand were groceries, cleaning supplies, and textbooks--all very real necessities. Aside from the needs, I had many wants that drained my account as well from insomnia online clothes shopping at two in the morning to food trips off campus when I (occasionally) got sick of on-campus dining. Anyway, here's what I've learned so far that may help someone make his or her savings last as long as possible in college.
1. Save as much money as possible before college.
Having a job in high school is so beneficial. If you have the time, it's something that not only teaches life skills, but also allows you to save for when you're living on your own. Graduation money is awesome too; no matter how tempting, don't blow it all the summer after senior year. Go to concerts, take trips with friends, but try to conserve where you can; you'll thank yourself come fall.
2. Figure out a budget that works for you
I know, the word "budget" is boring and adult and scary but it's not as bad as it seems! Over your first month away from school, buy as you normally would and track how much you've spent at the end of the month. From there, maybe transfer that amount of money into your checking account, or take out cash, or however you differentiate and try to only use that much each month.
3. ...and try to stick with it.
Realize that if you go over the amount you've given yourself occasionally, that it's not the end of the world. You'll (hopefully) learn from the experience. For example, if you bought food and didn't eat it all, note that and buy less next time.
4. Splurge every once in a while.
It will keep you sane and happy. Take into account that when December rolls around, buying Christmas presents will take more money (it's okay though because you'll get most of it back in your own presents). Remember that new clothes for Spring are sometimes (always) necessary. It's okay to allot yourself more money for March to get a few new shirts or a bathing suit for Spring Break.
5. Work over breaks whenever possible.
If your high school job allows you to come back for Fall, Winter, and/or Spring breaks, don't miss the opportunity to replenish your savings even if working over break sounds like hell. Also, getting a job on or off campus while you're at school is always an option. If you feel like it's something you can fit into your schedule, go for it.
6. Try not to fall into a depression as you see your savings account rapidly shrinking.
Understand that spending money is a necessary part of adult life. That number that is (way) smaller now than it was at the beginning of fall semester means you're living and functioning in life!
By the end of spring semester, you could very well be cutting it close to living on saltines and tap water BUT remember that it's okay. That $14 on dinner out is now a memory you'll never forget with friends. The $20 you spent on that shirt you couldn't resist is confidence when you go out with friends. Also remember that looming in the near future is the bittersweet summer job--you'll make money, and start the process all over again in the fall.