Being college students (especially college students who are away from home) we find ourselves with a new sense of independence and responsibility. We spread our homework-filled, part-time job, finals-in-a-week weighted wings, as we embark on our solitary voyage into the “real world.” In our efforts to glide smoothly through, we must balance our time, our priorities, and possibly most importantly, our money. Here are some tips for managing your finances and saving money as a college student:
1. Create a budget.
No matter how big or small it may be, creating a budget plan and sticking to it will help keep track of your weekly/bi-weekly/monthly spending and will make sure your money is going to the right places. Balancing the money coming from savings, financial aid, wages, and parental allowances will allow you to ensure that you will have enough money to finance your needs, such as bills or school supplies, while also allowing money for your wants.
2. Differentiate between wants and needs.
How much money do you need to save for laundry or gas? How much should you budget for non-meal plan food? Differentiating between wants and needs will secure that your budget is sufficient enough to support yourself financially. Through making sure you don’t spend too much on things you want, you will make sure you have enough money for the things you need.
3. Avoid full-priced textbooks.
As if college isn’t expensive enough, the prices of textbooks, for the most part, are even more outrageous. However, there are many services that allow you to rent textbooks, such as Chegg, or buy them used, like eBay and Amazon. Some schools may also offer textbook rental programs, so do your research! Also, avoid buying textbooks from your school’s bookstore, where the prices are probably the highest.
4. Start building your credit responsibly.
If we’re all flying through this sky of independence, then credit card companies are vultures. Opening an appropriate credit card account under your own name and using it on small purchases, like lunch, can help you build a great credit score, which is a score that may be just as significant as your GPA once you graduate. However, be careful when owning a credit card. Don’t rack up late fees or high interest payments, and don’t sign up with a vult- I mean, credit card company you are unfamiliar with, because many of them pray on careless spending from inexperienced college students.
5. Look for student discounts.
As college students, we are gifted with the status of our education as a key to saving money in minute ways. Whether it be local venues, restaurants, vendors, traveling companies, or even retail stores, college student discounts are available in numerous places, especially those closest to college campuses. Finding these discounts can help you save on both needs, such as laundry or a laptop for school, AND wants, like ice cream or a sandwich, or an ice cream sandwich!
With these tips, I hope that you flap your wings with monetary balance and glide gracefully through your voyage out into the “real world,” dodging trees planted by rising gas and mass transportation prices, and steering clear of planes piloted by student loans. Bon Voyage!