Most people find that college life is filled with many firsts. For instance, it may be the first time you have to live away from your parents and siblings. You are also now in charge of planning your schedules and completing your assignments. The most stressful challenge you will need to handle, however, relates to money management. For the first time, you have actually to plan how you spend your money.
You have to remember that you will be operating with limited finances. This means that you need to learn to prioritize to make sure that you don’t become wasteful, while also not missing out on the fun life that college can provide. Although the idea of making a budget may not sound pleasing to you, learning money management is critical for your college experience.
It does not matter whether you are using financial aid or paying your way through college. There are considerable costs associated with a college education, and things can get even pricier if you don’t work on your spending habits. Here are a few tips and tools to help you start your college journey with the right financial skills.
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- Create and Follow a Budget
When you are a student, you may be tempted to spend with a carefree attitude, using whatever is on your bank account. However, while this may have been possible when you were in high school and living off from what your parents give. However, once you move to college, creating a budget becomes a necessity.
When creating your budget, map out the various income streams you have access to, including the funds provided by your parents. If you have a paying job, include the income in your budget. Money from financial aid, scholarships, and student loans should also be included in the budget.
Once you have a good idea of how much money you have, you can then consider your expenses. Categorize these expenses according to their levels of priority. By now, we are assuming that you already have a good idea of what is considered affordable.
Please understand that the key part of budgeting is sticking to your estimations. Try to make smart money decisions when spending to make sure that your habits remain within your budget. For instance, you could find social activities that don’t cost much such as sponsored events and outdoor concerts.
You can also reduce the amount of money you spend on clothes by purchasing from discount stores. Keep track of the recurring expenditures. You can use a digital planner or a paper app to achieve this objective.
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- Make Use of Online Services
When it comes to creating good financial habits, the internet can be your friend. Sitting down to go through a spreadsheet can be frustrating, especially given the hectic nature of college life. Instead, you can use any of the many reliable money management applications on your phone to help you manage your finances conveniently. There are also many online banking options available. Choose wisely.
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- Limit Your Dependence on Student Debt
We understand that cost of getting a college education has risen steadily over the years. However, relying on student loans can damage your credit score and create a financial burden that is hard to overcome once you graduate. To minimize your debt, make sure that you only spend on what you need. Of course, it is natural for college students to want to impress their peers by funding parties or treats. Loans may seem like free money, but they are not. They are debts you will have to pay with interest. If needed, only use your student loans for tuition, food, and accommodation rather than splurging on the latest fashion trends.
Also, try only to borrow what is required and when it is required. Of course, we appreciate that not every student gets the chance to go to college with full funding. If you need to take out loans, make sure to measure the amount you take on the salary you expect once you graduate. Start practicing frugal living so that you won’t end up having to pay for living in a bigger dorm room later in your career.
Another way to reduce your reliance on student loans is to get a job. This can be part-time or full-time. Just make sure to prioritize your studies and plan appropriately. There are work-study options that offer students amazing flexibility while helping them to make extra cash to fund their budgets.