Managing your money correctly in college is essential. Here are nine money tips for college students that help you save (and maybe even earn) some money while studying.
College is a vital time in your life. You’re well on your way to your dream career, and it’s so important that you keep a good handle on your finances while you work toward that goal.
Managing your money correctly in college is essential.
Money saving tips for college students
Before you start classes this semester, here is a quick refresher course on keeping your money in order during these amazing years. These tips are vital, and every college student should know them.
I hope you’re taking notes.
Only Borrow What You Need
On average, students leave college with around $35,000 in student loan debt.
That’s a number you definitely want to avoid, if at all possible.
Minimize what you have to pay back once you graduate by taking out as few student loans as you possibly can. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you can avoid it, you absolutely should.
Make sure you fill out the FAFSA every single year to get as much financial aid as you’re eligible for.
You should also look into any grants and scholarships that may be available to you. Any money you’re awarded is money you don’t have to pay back in the end, which is great for your bank account.
If it’s an option, get a part-time job during the school year and a full-time job over the summer break. That way, you can save up for tuition fees and other costs during the school year.
Make a Budget
Making a budget is one of the most important things you can do in college. It’s right up there with studying and passing your classes.
Budgets help you keep track of how much money you make and how much you can spend on necessities. Then, you’ll be well aware of how much you have left over. It prevents you from spending outside your means.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t know how much money you’ve got to play with.
Your monthly budget should take into account how much you have for the month. It should factor in college costs, as well as any monthly expenses you have to pay. And make sure to work in a little allowance for fun!
If you’re not a budgeting whiz, don’t worry. There are plenty of budgeting apps out there to help get you started!
Limit Your Credit Cards
Building your credit while you’re in college is essential, but it has to be done wisely.
Opening a credit card is a great way to build credit, as long as you use your credit cards responsibly. You can’t just use the entire limit and leave a balance on it and expect your credit to reflect something positive.
First of all, only open one credit card. There’s no reason for you to have more than that. Second, make sure you pay your balance in full every single month.
Your credit card should be used only for small, occasional purchases. These purchases are things you know you can afford to pay off in a timely manner. They should essentially be things you know you will have the money for.
Large purchases should be reserved for emergencies only.
Do your research before you apply for a credit card. There are student credit cards that give college students certain perks and are probably your best bet while you’re in school.
Skip the Brand New Textbooks
Textbooks are a lot of money, especially when they are brand spanking new. You could end up spending over $1,000 a year on books alone if you get them fresh off the shelf.
Here are a few alternatives to buying new textbooks that can save you some money:
- Buy used textbooks.
- Rent your textbooks.
- Borrow textbooks from other students taking the same class.
- Share textbooks with classmates.
- Get your textbooks electronically.
- Look into previous versions.
Don’t forget to resell your textbooks at the end of the year when they’re no longer any use to you. That way, you make some of your money back.
Keep an Emergency Fund
You never know what might come up, so it’s a good idea to be prepared!
It’s not always realistic to save a large sum of money for your emergency fund. You do have a lot of expenses to take care of concerning your education. You’re on a very tight budget.
Try to get to a point where you have $1,000 stored away and build from there.
There are ways you can save for an emergency fund without breaking your budget. Selling your old stuff and using your skills to make some extra money on the side are both viable options.
Now’s the time to start teaching piano. You knew all those lessons would come in handy someday!
Utilize Student Discounts
While you’re in college, student discounts will be your best friend.
There’s an entire world of discounts out there just waiting for you to use them. You just have to show your student ID card to claim them. It’s all pretty simple.
It’s a lot easier to save money when hundreds of retailers from restaurants to bookstores offer you some kind of discount.
If you’re unsure whether they have one or not, all you have to do is ask! It’s a valid question, and it can help you save a pretty penny throughout your years in college.
Don’t Bring Your Car
Taking your car to college is extremely tempting and may seem like a convenient idea. But hear me out on this one …
You don’t need your car while you’re at college if you’re living on campus or anywhere close by.
For one, cars take gas, which costs a significant amount of money on its own. And then you have to think about the chances something will go wrong. If you need repairs or even an oil change, it’s going to cost you money.
Any unforeseen maintenance could completely blow your budget.
It’s a much better idea to use public transportation. A lot of schools figure the cost of getting around into your tuition, which means you can use the buses for free while you’re a student.
Who could possibly turn down a free ride when you’re trying to save money?
Spend Less on Entertainment
Don’t stop doing the things you enjoy just because you’re in school. Having fun is essential to keeping your stress levels down. You can’t just think about schoolwork 24/7.
Thankfully, there are plenty of cheap ways to have fun in college to keep you from ruining your budget.
Colleges are always running events. If you take a look at the calendar, you will likely find everything from sports to concerts coming up.
And the best part?
They are totally free to students!
Instead of going to the movies, stream a movie on Netflix. Pack a picnic and find a pretty place to eat rather than eating at a restaurant. Or just make dinner at home.
If you absolutely must go out on the town, make sure you’re hitting up those places with student discounts to at least save something on your good time.
Keep Track of Everything
Regularly look over your finances. Keep track of your account and adjust your budget for any changes.
The more you know about your money, the more likely you are to use it wisely.
Start taking your finances seriously right now. Being money-savvy is an essential skill for life.
Isn’t that what college is all about? Giving you the skills you need to succeed.
Knowledge is power and all that.
These vital money tips will ensure you make it through college without going bankrupt. Every college student should know and follow these tips from the start of their college years to the very end.
In four years, you’ll be glad you read this article!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Huntsville to help them with their online marketing.