Managing your finances well at college can be the difference between a fun and enriching time that leads to a great career, or a stressful and miserable experience without much to show for it. Fortunately, with a bit of common sense, it’s not difficult to stay financially stable throughout.
Even if you’ve secured loans to cover your living expenses, you can easily overspend and run out of cash if you don’t budget. You need to know how much you have and how much you typically spend.
With mobile banking and accompanying apps, you can easily track your spending, see where you are overspending, and set limits.
If you don’t intend on getting part-time work and will be living solely of a loan and/or savings, it’s easy to divide that up into a monthly allowance.
2) Get the Loans You Need
Even though there’s ample information about student finance and how it works, many people still fail to apply for all of the aid they are entitled to.
Federal student loans can cover the cost of your education and living expenses, so you don’t have to worry about money while at college. Interest might only be applied once you leave and repayments can be tied to your income, meaning you won’t struggle to make payments once you get a job.
If mid-way through you do require extra money beyond the federal loans, try to avoid private student loans because they often come in much larger amounts than you need. You can easily get a $500 payday loan online to tide you over.
3) Part Time Work
If you’re a full-time student you certainly don’t have enough time to work a full-time job, but if you schedule your days efficiently, there will be time for a few hours in the week and at weekends. This will strengthen your finances by giving you a source of income and also allow you some extra money to have fun with.
Of course, if you’re particularly frugal, you might even put this cash aside for when you graduate to ensure the transition into employment is smooth.
4) Don’t Party Too Hard
Ok, it’s college, you are going to party and have fun. However, there have been more than a few horror stories of students blowing all of their loan money and leaving themselves stuck scrimping for the rest of their college years.
In an adjunct to your budget, set yourself a weekly party fund and stick to it. And, if you head out anywhere, limit yourself to a set cash amount and leave any cards behind so you aren’t tempted to overspend. Your judgment is always blurred if you drink, making it more likely that you’ll spend more than you should.
5) Limit Fast Food and Eating Out
If college marks the first time you are living away from home, it can be a tough transition if you’ve never been fully responsible for grocery shopping and cooking meals. It’s so easy to order takeout or go out for food. It’s also easy to buy low nutritional snack foods and ready-meals.
However, it is also expensive and you can soon throw your finances out of whack if you don’t limit poor eating habits.
Learn a few basic dishes that you can make from raw ingredients and your bank balance will thank you.
6) Stop Driving
Running a vehicle is expensive even if you barely drive it. When you go off to college there’s also a reduced need for one as you’ll probably be in a city with good public transport and you’ll be living on or near campus.
If you don’t want an added drain on your finances, there’s no harm in selling your car or taking it off the road when you go to college. You can get back to driving when you graduate.
7) Make Use of Student Discounts
Retailers, restaurants, and other providers that students are often strapped for cash—that’s why there are now so many student discounts available online and in-person.
You may need to use your college ID or sign up for an extra scheme, but you can legit get money off all kinds of things just for being a student.
Of course, not all of these discounts will benefit you because you might not be buying the products anyway. But, if you make a list you can soon see where savings can be made.
8) Use the Library
College textbooks are absurdly expensive and while there may be one or two that you use constantly, many will be a one-off skimming of a few chapters. Instead of buying everything from the booklist you get at the beginning of the term, make use of the library. It really isn’t that much hassle.
College is both fun and educational and by following the above tips there’s no reason to struggle financially.
At college or a former graduate? Let us know how you managed your finances in the comments below!