There are a few reasons that being smart about personal finances when you’re in college is important. First, if you set good habits in place now, it will be easy to stick with them for the rest of your life. Second, if you aren’t careful with your money, you could end up graduating with a huge amount of debt. Finally, if you’re savvy enough to start putting away money now, it could pay dividends in the future. Most college students don’t have much money, but you can make the most of what you do have with the tips below.
Paying for School
Tuition expenses are much higher than they were for your grandparents, your parents, and maybe even your older siblings. This means that you might need multiple strategies to cover your costs. Having scholarships for college are a great part of that strategy, and you can search online and apply for scholarships that might pay for your entire education. Even those that don’t, can help a lot, especially in conjunction with loans and savings.
Keeping Debt Minimal
Only borrow what you’ll need, and if possible, start paying off any student loans you have while you’re still in school. You aren’t required to do this, but it can help you keep your debt down. There might also be programs that allow forgiveness of a portion of your loans. In some sectors, if you work in public service for a few years, some of your federal loans will be forgiven.
Using Credit Cards
It’s not uncommon for college students to get deluged with credit card offers. It’s generally not a good idea to open a bunch of lines of credit. This can damage your credit score because it looks as though you have the potential to get into a lot of debt. In addition, you’re facing the temptation to max out those cards or at least use them more often than you should.
If you’re someone who struggles with a spending habit in the first place, getting one or two credit cards may not be the best idea. However, for everyone else, they can be a good way to start building up a credit score. The trick is that you need to pay the balance off each month. This helps you avoid high interest rates.
Have a Budget
It may not be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done, but a budget can give you peace of mind that allows you to spend money on entertainment and other things you enjoy without worrying about whether you also have enough for rent, tuition, and other necessities. Making a budget is all about figuring out what you have coming in and going out. You can track your spending for a few weeks to get a better idea of where your money is going.
Use this information to help you map out your budget. Figure out how much money you have per semester and break that down across months and weeks. Make sure your necessities are paid for first. This will tell you how much you have left to spend on fund. You might find that once you have all the data, you want to cut back on spending in some areas so that you have more for something else. You might want to be more careful about the groceries you buy so that you can afford to go out with your friends on weekends.
Money is tight for students, and saving any of it can seem impossible. However, there are two advantages to putting away even a little bit, even if it is just a few dollars each week. First, you can build up an emergency fund, which means that if you have an unexpected expense, you don’t have to put it on your credit card.
If you put away just $10 weekly, you’ll have $520 at the end of a year. Keep this in a savings account so that it’s easy to access. The other reason is that any money you put away now in a retirement fund is likely to increase in value a great deal thanks to compound interest. Retirement can seem a long way off, but few things can offer you the financial security that investing in it early can.