If you are just starting out in college, these are some of the best money management skills you can take with you throughout your college career and even after college. For many college kids they think that once they start out away from home it is all going to be fun and games but this could not be any further from the truth.
This starts a whole new level of responsibility and whatever the amount of student assistance you are receiving from grants and student loans you will have to setup a solid money/debt management plan that will help you get through this new stage of life. Below are some tips for making money and managing your college budget.
1. You can start off by getting a Job!
The first step in starting your life in college is to get a job. Unless you have a large sum of money in student loans, are going to be dependent on money from your family or saved up before leaving you will need a job to have a source of income while you are away from home.
Establish an income. Many college campuses will have job opportunities for students. Many campus employers will post job openings on a centralized bulletin board where they post the openings. If you are not able to locate one, check your school newspaper, speak with current student employees when you are around campus at the bookstore, the library, the cafeteria, etc.
Depending on your major you may ask your professor if they are hiring students for positions in their department, this could be a good way to earn college credit or career experience not to mention a nice referral when you are looking for a job.
2. Distinguishing Wants from Needs
Once you have established a source of income you need to sit down and look at what you are currently spending your money on and what you can do without. When you are looking at your list of where your money is going cut out unneeded purchases like money for going to the club, late night pizza, etc. While you do not have to cut out fun completely if you are working with limited funds it is something you may have to put into perspective the needs and the wants.
3. Other great helpful tips
Below is a list of tips and advice to help you manage the money you do have coming in to help keep you from overspending and prepare you for a stable budgeting style for after you graduate. You may even find yourself giving tips to your college friends who may not be as savvy with their spending as you are.
Be Realistic. There will be some unexpected costs at college so will need to make sure you have enough overhead to ensure you will not have to break out your emergency credit card.
If you have money leftover at the end of the month. This is the best time to start setting up your emergency funds.
Keep Track. Keep a documented record of your transactions. Generally the easiest is through bank statements. Balance your statement as soon as it comes in so you can avoid Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fees on your account.
Stick to your budget. If you are tight on funds you will find yourself overspending early on in the month and you will have to have Ramen noodle dinners for the rest of the week. You could also check with your campus loan officer and find out if they offer any meal programs through your student loan program.
While you will have to pay this back when you begin paying back your student loans it will save your current budget as you won’t have to worry about how you are going to afford your next meal.
Keep track of due dates to avoid late fees. Make sure whatever bills you do have are paid on time. Keep a calendar above your desk or download an app on your phone or tablet to help you keep track of important dates.
Be ready to make hard decisions. If you start making difficult decisions now than when it comes to life after college you will be more likely to make the right decisions when it comes to finances and life in general.
Save where you can and find the best deals. Aside from classes the next biggest expense is books. There is never a need to spend a fortune on text books, there are a number of avenues to find used books. Your college bookstore may even have a section specifically for used text books.
Some outside sources may even offer a better deal on used books, check with some of the biggest online stores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble for used text books. Take advantage of college book buy-back programs so you can get money for books you will no longer need. Finding used books can help you save hundreds of dollars.