One of the most frugal periods of a person’s life often takes place during college. School expenses, living away from home, and not being able to work full-time can add up to some very lean years. Instead of learning how to control your spending the hard way, you can follow these budget clinic tips to maintain healthy finances all throughout the college years.

1. Create a Monthly Budget.

Many students develop money problems due to a lack of budgeting. Since it’s the first time many are in charge of their own finances, a lack of knowledge and experience can lead to disaster. You can avoid these problems by creating a monthly budget. Determine your total monthly income by writing down what you bring in from wages earned, stipends, or money sent from family. Then list all the expenses you must pay (not including those already covered in your tuition) so you know how much money you have coming in, how much is going out and what has to be paid each month.

2. Break it Down Per Week.

You’ll find it easier to stick with a budget if you break it down week-by-week. This tactic can help you learn how to control your spending by promoting better money management. If you’re really disciplined or motivated, you might even find yourself able to budget well enough to have extra money at the end of the week. Tackling your finances one week at a time also allows you to recover from a money mistake more quickly by catching it early, rather than at the end of the month.

3. Be a Smart Shopper.

People with good finances are typically savvy shoppers, too. Save money on groceries, school supplies, and other necessities by shopping at no-frills discount stores. Additionally, purchasing store brands instead of name brands can save you lots of money. Check out the nearby thrift shops…most college towns have them. This is a great place to buy gently used clothing or dorm furnishings at a fraction of the regular cost.

4. Pool Your Resources.

It’s important to balance out hours of studying with good times spent with friends. To make a night out or a trip off-campus more possible, you can pool your resources with those of your friends. For example, you can make a drive home for the weekend more affordable by driving with others going to the same area who are willing to share gas expenses. Likewise, at the end of a long week, pitch in as a group and enjoy soda and pizza together.

5. Earn Extra Money.

Students who earn extra money once in a while find it easier to pay bills, buy groceries, and have a little spending money left over. Paid clinical trials are an effective way to bring in money on occasion and they allow you to work around your class schedule. Look for clinical trials near your campus. If the university you attend has a medical school, they might even conduct medical trials there.

You can get through the lean college years without going broke or racking up a lot of credit card debt. Creating a budget and sticking to it allows you to live within your means and avoid financial stress. By doing so, you set yourself up for healthy finances as you transition into a new career, rent your first apartment, and get started on the next phase of your life.