While you are in college you learn and relearn many different things. At times it takes breaking old habits or rethinking the way you do things from time management to spending habits. Unfortunately, college takes a lot of money, so learning how to manage your money becomes very important. This task can be overwhelming, especially with all the other school related tasks you will have to juggle. Here are a few suggestions that can help make money management a bit easier.
Make a Budget: This can look like a major task, but using basic math you can easily put this together. Figure out what your income will be, (money coming in: loans, grants, job, help from parents . . .). Then calculate your expenses (tuition, books, supplies . . .). Once you have these two figures for at least a semester, break it down per month. If you come out with a positive amount at the end of the month, that should also be budgeted. You can add in eating out, entertainment, clothes, or any other extra you can think of. If you come out negative or feel that you need or want a little more income, you may consider getting a job. Try to develop this budget before you start school to help prevent money problems during the semester.
Student Discounts: There are many places within the surrounding community like restaurants, bookstores, movie theaters and other stores that offer students a discount to local students. If you are not sure that the store offers a discount, do not be afraid to ask. Take full advantage of these discounts every little bit of savings counts.
Be a Creative Thinker: Think of ways you can save. It can be as simple as buying used books instead of new ones. You may consider living off campus, if you can find something more affordable or the opposite if living on campus with food included is less expensive. Use your brain and come up with ways to save.
Avoid the Credit Card: Many students are already racking up a good amount of debt with student loans, you do not want more debt depending on credit cards. Credit card debt is easily encumbered which will only cause a burden on you financially in the near future. Only use them when absolutely necessary. Having a credit card should not give you carte blanche on buying anything and everything.
Have an Emergency Plan: Unexpected situations easily arise, it’s helpful to have a little extra set aside or this may be a time to use that credit card. You may even want to call home for a little help. That is better than letting the problem get out of hand. Having a good solid budget though should help you avoid big problems.
College is a time to manage and explore life on your own. Part of that independence is being able to manage your money effectively. Learning this early on can help you avoid financial disasters that can easily happen. Be smart and good luck!