Unless you are a recent lottery winner, money management is likely a high priority for you, and the years spent as a college student are no exception. Figuring out how to pay for college, get good grades, not go broke, and still have fun, can feel completely overwhelming. The good news is though, that these are formative years and the more attention you pay to the habits you are creating the better off you will be once this time in your life is over and the real adulting begins.
Additionally, these are the years where financial mistakes are more easily forgiven because they are expected. So as long as you maintain some level of impulse control regarding spending, and place the appropriate weight on the responsibility-based pieces of your budget, it is highly likely that you will come out of undergrad with the best possible financial scenario.
First things first, how are you paying for your education? Starting with the biggest section of your budget and then working your way down from there is a good way to prevent yourself from getting underwater financially. When weighing options for using borrowed money to pay for your education, think about taking out student loans from a private lender. There are unique requirements with this type of loan, so you will want to make sure that you qualify, and that the repayment terms are manageable for you compared to the other available options.
Understanding the expectations that accompany student loans before you commit yourself to them, sets you up for success because it keeps them in the front of your mind instead of shoving them to back and having an ‘I’ll deal with them when the time comes’ mindset. Yes, student loan payments do not kick in until after you graduate but once they start, they don’t stop until they’re done, knowing that all along is going to eliminate the shock factor that lesser prepared students will experience.
The overall cost of your tuition, and the size loan you have to take out to pay for it, can even impact your decision of which school to attend in the first place, point being, you have nothing to lose by researching loan options in depth but there is a lot that can be gained.
One major mistake that budget beginners often make is leaving out sections of their budget that they feel like they should not be allocating money towards, then allocating money towards them anyways. This only creates holes in your budget that can get you into trouble. Be honest with how you are spending your money, as the world expects college students to be spending money on midnight pizza and social outings with friends.
Being clear about where every available dollar is going, and giving every dollar a job, might appear restrictive however it actually highlights where you can take some liberties without it having a negative impact on your overall budget. Planning your frivolous spending might seem like an oxymoron, but the more defined your budget is, the quicker you will learn to living within your means, and the less likely you are to develop financial habits that can cripple you in your adult years.