From creating a budget to repaying student loans, here are some financial tips for college students
Now that you’re in college, it’s likely that you are in charge of your own financial affairs more so than when you lived at home and functioned mostly as part of your parents’ economic universe. For most college students, their college years mark the first time they are required to budget or manage money on their own, which is why many seek financial literacy tips for college students. Some financial experts believe that money-making for college students should be a required course. There are many financial tips for college students that might come in handy because along with the freedom comes the responsibility to spend money wisely. And you also get to experience the consequences of your choices, both good and bad. This article features the top 10 most valuable financial tips for college students.
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From creating a budget to repaying student loans, here are financial tips for college students:
- Take control, and be responsible
Save money for the unexpected costs that will pop up sooner or later along with future items and experiences. Has a healthy attitude toward money, taking a long-term view, and living within their means. Because it’s way too easy to neglect your finances when there are so many other challenges to meet and adjustments to make regarding college life. Even if your parents continue to pay some of your bills — tuition, and room and board, for example — you should work out a plan with them for shifting your other expenses to your control.
- Create a budget
Regardless of your current financial situation, creating a budget and sticking to it lets you control where your money goes instead of wondering where it went. A budget is a guide that helps you track and organize your cash inflows and outflows. Your budget should account for your personal financial goals, which may include paying bills, saving, giving to others, treating yourself, and much more.
- Search for Available Financial Help
One of the best financial books for young adults will clarify the many avenues available to find money that is made available for students specifically. There are many scholarships (and other types of financial help for students available) for which students only have to submit an online application if they qualify. If you learn how to manage money in your 20s, this skill can be applied throughout one’s life as budgets and assets grow exponentially.
- Keep track
Create a routine for yourself that includes a regular accounting of your finances. By keeping careful records of what you’ve paid out and what you have left in your account(s) to cover the remainder of your monthly expenses, you’ll soon have a very clear picture of your financial situation.
This financial self-knowledge is key to keeping yourself on track. It’s not that you have to know every detail down to the last penny, but having a good idea of when you can hit the ATM for a few spare bucks, and when you have to rein in your appetite for an expensive meal off-campus, will make your life calmer and allow you to worry about more important matters — like your grades.
- Find ways to earn extra spending money
Even though you’re busy with classes and clubs, making time to earn some extra cash could be well worth the effort. If you qualify, try to get a work-study job, whether on or off-campus. And if you can’t access work-study, look for any part-time jobs for college students that pay well. Some side hustle ideas include driving for a ride-sharing service, selling your crafts on Etsy, or posting your skills on Fiverr, Upwork, or another freelance marketplace. Consider your skills and interests, and get creative about using your talents to earn some extra cash.
- Open an Amazon Prime Student Account
One of the best financial tips for college students to save money is to take advantage of the companies that offer student discounts, like Amazon’s Prime Student Account. Amazon also provides students with a number to earn money which may offer additional financial help for students in college.
- Don’t waste student loan money on nonessentials
Student loans can be a useful tool for covering tuition and other college costs, but you should avoid borrowing more than you need. Some college students spend part of their loan money on clothing or entertainment, but this decision could come back to haunt you.
If you’re using student loan money for non-essentials, you could come to regret it after graduation when those first student loan bills kick in. Not only will you have higher monthly payments, but your larger debt balance will accumulate serious interest.
- Protect yourself
Be particular when it comes to your money. Don’t leave cash lying around. Be skeptical of classmates, friends, or others who want to borrow money, or have great ideas about how you should spend yours. Be careful about identity theft, especially if you shop or bank online. Think about forwarding financial mail to your parents’ home.
- Look for ways to spend less
Take advantage of any student discounts from local businesses. Check online for student deals on travel, food, books, clothing, entertainment, etc. Clip coupons before a shopping trip, and buy generic whenever possible. Don’t spend extra money on food — especially fast food — if you have a meal plan. Wait for the next blockbuster to go to DVD and borrow it from the library. Sooner or later, all movies are free. Don’t overspend on your phone plan — use Skype to call home.
- Start Planning for Retirement
For many college students, saving for retirement may be an afterthought because it’s so far off. Even though most college students won’t retire for several decades, now is the best time to start saving in order to ensure a successful retirement. Explore all the options you have when it comes to different retirement savings accounts and chooses the one that fits you best. By beginning to save now, you can benefit from the power of compound interest, the process by which your savings grow exponentially, or at a continually increasing rate. Take advantage of your youth and start saving early!