There's a stereotype of the 'broke college student' and while this isn't true for everyone, studies have shown that the average college student struggles to manage the cost of tuition, books, and personal expenses. Here are 7 tips to help you manage your financial budget in college - and beyond.
#1: Make A Budget
Making a budget helps you manage your finances because it is the act of you telling your money where to go instead of spending it and then wandering where it went. If you've done this in the past don't be too hard on yourself because it's easy to neglect your finances when you have a lot on your plate. But it's important to consciously work to develop good money habits now because poor financial decisions in college can haunt you well into your adult life. This is especially true in regards to credit. To make budgeting easier, you can use an app or have it written in a notebook.
Speaking of credit, college students are often inundated with offers from credit card companies from the moment they turn 18 years old. We wish we could say this is because they have the students' best interest in mind, but often times this isn't the case. So before applying for any credit cards take the time to carefully review the terms of the agreement and do your own due diligence. As general rules of thumb, be especially mindful of the interest rates, avoid cards with annual fees, and give preference to cards with rewards so you can gain additional benefits from your spending. Also, add reminders to your phone for when your statement date and payment due dates are for each card to make sure you don't miss any payments.
Look For Ways To Spend Less
Through tracking your spending you'll be able to discover where you spend most of your money, and where there are areas you can cut back. Are there any subscriptions that you pay for monthly that you can eliminate? Is there a family plan for your cellphone or a cheaper plan that you can switch to? Which restaurants and businesses in your area offer student discounts? You can research many of these online and also download apps to take advantage of coupons.
Automate Your Savings
One mistake many people make across the board is undersaving. By automating your savings you can provide some security in the event of car trouble or another unexpected issue. Even if it is only $10/week, you'll soon see the savings growing. When considering where to open your savings account look to credit unions and online banks as they tend to offering much higher interest rates than big box banks.
Find Ways To Make Extra Money
Part-time or full-time jobs can provide a stable source of income. However not all students will have the time available that these positions require. You can look into positions with companies such as Uber, Instacart, DoorDash, paid streaming opportunities, or affiliate positions. If you have a talent or skill you can also monetize those online through an online course - allowing you to generate extra income without the time demands.
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