As you begin the next step in your journey of life as a college-bound student, you may face many challenges along the way. Learning to manage your finances effectively sets the tone for a lifetime of responsible financial decisions. These tips will help you keep your finances organized.
Financial Tips for a New College Student
Whether you live in college dorms or have an apartment off campus, one of the most important things to learn is managing your money.
The tips below will help you keep your budget in balance:
- Create a budget. Your budget should include living expenses such as rent, utilities, gasoline, food, and entertainment. It must be something you can live with — and stick to.
- Establish financial limits. Give yourself a little wiggle room in your budget for fun: things like eating out, new technology, or going to the movies. It’s important to have some flexibility in your budget – with limits.
- Be cost effective. Learn how to take advantage of things like student discounts, buying used books, or shopping for second-hand clothing and furniture. The less you spend on necessities, the more you have left over for the college experience.
- Get a job. Not only does having a job help expand your limited budget, but it also teaches you the value of budgeting your time between work, class, studies, and fun. This lesson will carry over into your life beyond college as well.
- Use technology to help you manage your money. There are all kinds of apps you can download to your phone to help you manage your money more wisely. In addition to the variety of apps, you can set up text alerts to notify you when your balance dips below a certain threshold and to remind you to pay your bills each month.
- Automate savings. The habit of saving money is a good habit to start. There are many ways you can automate your savings so that when emergencies arise, you have a cushion to help.
- Cook and eat at home. Whether you are in a dorm or apartment, there are a variety of meals you can prepare for yourself that will cost much less than dining out. Not only do they save you money on the meals, but also on gasoline and the time it takes to get to various restaurants.
- Build credit during college. While you must exercise caution with credit cards, they can help you establish a credit history to serve you better when you apply for a mortgage later in life.Strive to pay your credit card balance off in full each month, if possible, and pay your bills on time. Carrying a balance forward will have you paying interest on top of the amount owed, and not paying your bill on time may come with late fees, higher interest rates, and negatively affect your credit.
Following these tips will help you live within your means as a college student while preparing you for life after college.