For a lot of people, college is where they begin to apply budgeting practices for the very first time. That’s why most college students have part-time jobs while they attend school. Some people pay for their own on-campus living expenses, while others pay rent and bills. Either way, if you’re a student, you need to learn how to budget and be realistic about your expenses to get through the semester. Here are five steps to managing your finances as a student.
1. Open a student bank account.
You may already have a checking account with a financial institution. But if it isn’t a student bank account, then you may want to reconsider what you mainly use for banking and apply for a new one. Student bank accounts can come with a lot of perks specifically tailored to college students. You can get discounts at major coffee shops or even cashback from textbook websites. Student credit cards have their own perks. They have fewer requirements, and it’s a great way to start building your credit.
2. Write down any financial goals and create a budget.
With the help of college application advisors, you can get assistance with applying for college and with financial planning. The college admissions process isn’t just about getting into a top school. It’s also about finding the right fit in terms of your finances, career goals, and interests. If you’re living in a dorm and hoping to move out into an apartment with your roommate, then you may want to start setting aside money for that specific goal. A college consulting service can help you figure out a strategic plan for your educational goals while taking financial aid into account. So, write down your goals and start creating a budget!
3. Track all of your expenses and spend your money wisely.
Now that you’ve set a budget, it’s time to stick to it. Track all of your expenses and make sure you’re not going over your spending limits. A great way to do this is by setting up notifications on your phone for your expenses. If you’ve set up an account with a credit union in Middleville, MI then you can see if its online banking features allow alerts. If not, you can use a budgeting app that links with your account and relies on that to send you notifications.
4. Figure out ways to stretch your money.
If you find that you’ve gone over the limit in some of your spending categories, then it may be time to stretch those dollars. Figure out ways to save on food or course materials. There are plenty of free college textbook websites out there. Maybe you can limit the number of iced coffees from the on-campus cafe, and start making your own instead. Buy textbooks used instead of new or sign up for those online groups where fellow students give them away for free.
5. Avoid borrowing money.
Borrowing money usually means you’re already in a hole. Whatever you do, try to avoid this. It’s usually a bad sign that you’re not managing your finances or that you’re spending more than you can afford. When college students are in a pinch, they sometimes turn to money lending services or even ask peers for a little extra cash they might have. It’s best to avoid this and try searching for smaller streams of income instead. Maybe you can deliver food on an app or shop for someone else’s grocery orders. See if you can get enough dog walking jobs to supplement your income amidst your busy school schedule. Borrowing money usually means you’re not too far from debt.
Managing your finances as a student doesn’t have to be difficult. It begins with choosing the right school that you can afford, budgeting properly, and using the tools available to stay within the budget.