The transition from being a school kid to a college student has a lot of perks. For one, you are finally given the chance to set out on your own, live independently and make your own decisions. However, along with these perks comes the realisation that you can no longer function as part of your parents’ financial universe and will now be responsible for your own allowance and how you spend it. College students are notoriously described as the worst money managers. However, with a little knowledge and the right tools; there is no reason why they cannot rectify this reputation. Here we have listed out 10 tips for proper and diligent management of money while in college because let’s face it, college is expensive, and managing to not be broke or in debt by the end of the month, is a pretty hard thing to do.
1: BUDGET, BUDGET, AND BUDGET:
One of the biggest essentials for good financial management in college is to create a budget and more importantly, to stick to it. To create a budget, you need to first determine the amount of money flowing in from different sources, parents, grandparents, relatives, a part-time job etc. Once you finalize your cash in hand, you need to estimate all your expenses, including miscellaneous ones like stationery. Further, put all these categories and numbers into a spreadsheet and try to balance it, leaving a little money left over for emergencies and savings, if any. Once your budget is thus fixed, you need to devote yourself to sticking to it. And the main way of doing this leads to our next tip.
2: TRACK YOUR EXPENSES:
While this does not mean keeping track of where every single penny went, it is essential to document what you spent and where. There are many apps that allow you to track your spending habits over a period of time and make sure that you stick to your budget and don’t overspend.
3: START SAVING:
It is never too soon to start saving. Try the envelope method where you put a set amount into it every month that will act as a cushion of safety for you in case you really need money and do not wish to borrow. The earlier in life you learn to save, the better off you’ll be when it comes to having money saved up for small financial emergencies and the bigger expenses of life, like retirement.
4: AVOID GETTING CREDIT CARDS:
Students often forget that having a credit card does not mean free money and that any balance you have run up, needs to be repaid. Any bills not paid on time will incur interest charges and late fees which will most definitely leave you in trouble. It is, therefore, wiser to not own a credit card in college. If by chance you do happen to own a one, make sure to restrict it for emergencies and to pay off your bills diligently, every month.
5: DON’T BORROW, MINIMISE DEBT:
Many college students are often left with a huge debt after graduation that they have trouble paying off. One way of avoiding this is to simply not borrow. This can mean both from your friends and acquaintances, and also from the bank. While taking out a student loan might seem tempting, it can leave you in a fix in future when you do not have the means of paying it off. Avoid borrowing small amounts from friends as well, for while the amount might seem meagre when you borrow it, it can pile up and total to a large amount that you will have trouble returning in the future.
6: GET A JOB: One way of ensuring you have enough money to pay for your expenses and not having to borrow is by getting a job. This can be anything that interests you, from a sit at home online job, to working at your local NGO’s, to working at your neighborhood fast food joint. These jobs will provide a sense of financial security to you that will make your college life just a little easier to live.
7: CAPITALISE ON COUPONS AND STUDENT DISCOUNTS:
Another way to save a penny or two is to look for student discounts in the vicinity that will allow you to spend lesser than you had imagined. Many restaurants near your college will provide such discounts if you present your college ID and it is thus much more beneficial to eat at these restaurants than fancy, pricey ones that will burn a rather large hole in your pocket.
8: CUT OUT VICES:
A huge way in which many college students lose money is through inculcating habits like chain smoking and binge drinking. While an occasional night out to grab a beer with friends can do no harm, repeating such visits every day, until it becomes routine, can cost you quite a lot of money. Alcohol and Cigarettes do not come cheap, and they can harm your health as well as your budget at the same time. It is easier to try and cut out these vices altogether than regret it later.
9: GET ORGANISED:
Little things can chip away at your budget. Avoid paying fines for wrong parking, attendance shortage failed papers, library books returned beyond due dates etc. All of these incidents can be avoided with an organized way of living that includes maintaining to-do lists, paying your bills on time, planning ahead for the week and making sure to attend all your classes, despite the millions of other opportunities tempting you.
10: LIVE LIKE A STUDENT AND LEARN TO LOVE FRUGALITY:
Learn to not be like one of those students who believe they need to live the high life, filled with expensive solo apartments, pricy dine outs and rich friends in order to enjoy college. College is about sharing dorm rooms and having 3 other roommates, it’s about sometimes choosing cup noodles over a steak dinner and indulging in a fun movie night rather than partying at expensive pubs every other day. In other words, learn to live like a student should. Don’t live alone when you can split rent with others, capitalize on campus or hostel meal plans, borrow expensive textbooks from seniors or buy it off second-hand stores, use your student id’s at as many retailers and restaurants as you can, shop at the streets, eat at the streets. Finally, set yourself limits and avoid unnecessary expenses.
While all these tips help you restrict your spending and save as much as you can, make sure to also reward yourself every once in a while and allow an occasional splurge where you can let loose and have as much fun as you’d like, because that’s what makes college, well, college.