College can be extremely expensive. Along with enormous college debt to repay, there are also bills, food, textbooks, clothes, and an abyss of small pleasures you want to spend money on. But the good news: it’s a great opportunity to gain financial literacy that will help you throughout your entire life.
Unless you’ve just inherited a truckload of cash from a distant relative, learning how to manage your money is a sure way to get the most of your college experience and avoid higher debts. Budget management may seem frightening and overwhelming, especially when you’re a student with tons of other issues to solve. But these 7 tips should help you out.
Map Up A Detailed Budget Plan
Squandering all you have is a piece of cake when there’s no clear plan to follow. Therefore, you have to set a budget for every tiny winy need you may have. Budget your bills, groceries, college supplies costs, night-outs, take-outs, you name it.
“Make sure you have a budget for the so-called “cheating expenses”, recommends Willy, a student from Chicago. “You’ll have to deliver dozens of papers each year so it’s good to have a backup plan. If I hadn’t hired a professional to write my dissertation for me, I would have probably blown the chance to get my degree”.
So make sure you put everything on that list but be realistic Start with jotting down what you’re spending money on right now. Then, make necessary amendments.
Once you do, you’ll have a clear picture of what comes in and out and know what can be improved. Just don’t become a scrooge. Being short of money doesn’t mean that from now on, you have to deny yourself every tiny bit of happiness. Instead, choose cheaper options when you can or set some limitations.
Regularly Reconsider Your Plan
As your needs may change with time, the least you want is to follow old budget patterns that don’t work anymore.
Therefore, make it a habit to revise your money plan on a monthly basis. Perhaps, you’ll notice that you spend too much on entertainment or your food expenses are actually higher. With this information in mind, you can make necessary adjustments and work towards new goals.
And as we live in the digital era, you don’t even have to make these calculations manually. Just upload an app, like Mint or Wally, and always have your money flow statistics before your eyes.
Cut the Book Costs
Textbook costs are going off the scale these days; a visit to a bookstore can seriously hit your pocket and raise second thoughts about going to college at all.
But rather than abandoning the idea of getting higher education, try to cut the book costs. You can check out Amazon and local online stores for used volumes, or ask senior students if they’d like to sell you their materials at a cheaper price.
As an alternative, you can go for electronic book copies. They won’t please you with paper rustle melody, but a few saved dollars in your pocket will.
Get a Savings Account
No matter how solid your plan is, life can make adjustments at any moment, so it’s good to have a rainy day fund just in case. You can load your savings account manually, or automate the process with one of the many apps available in the AppStore or Google Store. Just make sure that you follow Warren Buffet’s rule: first save; then, spend the rest. Otherwise, you may find that there’s no more money to save.
Find Some Free Entertainment
College is meant for carelessness, huge parties, movies with friends, pizza time and pig-outs, and endless fun at a good dollar cost. Unfortunately, these are exactly the choices that can drag you into the debt pit for the rest of your life.
But if you think, there are plenty of options how you can unwind. Take a walk with your friends. Have a Dungeon & Dragons evening with other fans. Arrange a dancing or music night in the campus yard. Play some video games, after all. Along with saving a couple of bucks, there’s a good chance to find new friends and get valuable contacts.
Cook Your Meals
Take-out food can be serious damage to your college finances, let alone that it’s anything but healthy. By learning how to cook a few delicious and nutritious meals at home, you can stick to a healthier diet, indulge your taste buds, and save a good share of your budget.
Furthermore, going to the groceries and cooking itself can be an awesome social activity that includes teamwork, learning new things, and chilling out in good company. Plus, if you plan out your menu and the list of purchases in advance, you can avoid odd expenses.
Get a part-time job
In the end, there’s nothing more refreshing for your budget than a regular income; and getting a part-time job in college has many advantages.
First, it’s a great chance to continue studying towards your degree while also earning some cash. Along with having extra money for daily needs, you may even start repaying your student debt sooner.
Second, it’s a great opportunity to accumulate on-the-job experience and build a network of contacts, which can give you a solid edge once you graduate. If you’re lucky to find a job or a paid internship in your field, you can also get a set of necessary skills and become a qualified professional before you actually go on a full-time job hunt.
Just don’t be heroic. College is about studying and enjoying life first of all, and you don’t want to miss these moments working your socks off.
Positive changes don’t happen overnight. You’ll have to put some patience and effort to build a budget-friendly college routine. Right now, you may be short of money but try to apply these 7 tips every day, and you’ll notice financial improvements in no time.