Heading out to college is always an exciting time for students. It offers students an opportunity to live on their own without the protection of their parents. Secondly, it also comes with the chance to develop your career.
However, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Students now have to not only manage their time, studies but also their finances. It is all too easy to find yourself broke as a student.
That said with a few simple tips, you can ensure you stay on top of your finances as you make your way through college.
1. Come up With a Budget
The first step to managing your finances is to come up with a budget. That said, it is almost impossible to do so without first understanding your spending habits.
This is where reality hits you dead smack on your face as creating a budget is not a life skill that most students have.
A good place to start is to use finance apps that you can easily download from your Apple Store or Google Play. These allow you to account for your daily spending.
Now that you can see how you spend your money, ask yourself, can I sustain my daily spending habits? If not, you will need to make changes. Choose cheaper meals, consider making your own meals, and stop buying things that you do not need.
2. Get a Credit Card With a Small Line of Credit
Getting a credit card is a great way to limit the amount of money that you spend every month. This is unlike a debit card that allows you to make an overdraft.
A credit card with a small line of credit means that you will be able to pay off the debt plus interest and is also an excellent way to build your credit score.
Note however that sometimes if you are having trouble paying off your credit card, you may be better off taking a debit card.
3. Take Advantage of Breaks to Work a Job
Many students want to have fun during school breaks. However, this is also a perfect time to get a job and earn some money. The advantage of this is that you will require less in student loans plus you will also get to pay any outstanding student loans.
And let’s not forget the long term benefit of getting work experience on your resume.
4. Borrow Only What You Need
As a college student, you may be tempted to take student loans or other types of loans. It is important however to ensure that you do not take loans on things that you do not need.
Remember you will need to pay these loans back and it is a waste of finances to pay interest on loans that you didn’t need.
Find out what is most important to you as a student and take loans for these. Secondly, pay back the loans by taking off school jobs. This will put you in a position where you not only easily access loans but to also get them at lower interest.
5. Take Note of Necessary Expenses
Some expenses such as buying books, laptops, and accommodation are necessary. These costs are often one time and should be given top priority.
On the other hand, you will also need to find out any unnecessary costs and bring these down or completely eliminate them.
When it comes to school books, there are plenty of opportunities to save money with these. For instance, brand new textbooks can be highly expensive. You can find a student who is a year ahead of you and get them to sell their textbooks.
You can also sell your textbooks to students that are a year behind you.
Another way to save is to buy eBooks which are far less expensive than hard copy textbooks.
6. Find Cheap Accommodation
One of the most significant costs in college is accommodation. Some students are lucky enough to go to college while commuting from home. However, if this is not you, then you need to find cheap accommodation if you are looking to save up on cash.
One option is to utilize college hostels. These are affordable and provide the full college experience.
Alternatively, you may want to consider renting. Make sure it is a budget-friendly space in a safe neighbourhood.
Lastly, you may consider cost-sharing by getting a roommate. And the great thing is that this can also be an opportunity to build friendships that last a lifetime.
7. Open a Checking Account
There are plenty of banks that allow students to open free savings and checking accounts. This allows the students to save money on withdrawal fees as well as spend less on fund transfers.
Find a bank that offers ideal terms and also one that is convenient for you as a student. It should be easy to get to in case you need student saving advice and should have ATMs conveniently located near your school or living quarters.
8. Open an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is not only a great idea for everyone but also for students as well. It offers an opportunity to set money aside for those rainy days.
Make sure that it doesn’t have an online money transfer option as this could tempt you to use up your savings. Accessing the funds should not be simple. And do not worry about the amount of savings. No matter how little, they will accumulate over time and can be a real safety net during those hard times.
9. Search and Apply for Scholarships
When applying for college, also check their scholarship offers and apply these as well. These offer an excellent way to save on tuition.
As you do so, do not disregard the smaller scholarships. In fact, you are more likely to get a smaller scholarship than a full-time scholarship. However small, take advantage as these can cut down on your college fees significantly.