How to better manage your finances while at college

finances while at college

As a freshman, it is hard to get used to the new life and make yourself get up in the morning when no one’s there to control you. However, it’s probably even harder to learn to manage your finances properly. Surveys prove that students often struggle with tight budgets and have no idea where they can save and how. That’s why we have piled a few useful tips that should help you stay financially afloat even if you are not among the privileged with rich parents who can flush hundreds of dollars down the drain. So, what can a regular student do to have his expenses covered?

  1. Get yourself a credit card with a reasonable limit. There is no need to ask for tens of thousands of dollars, you will be able to increase your limit with time. However, if you set a high limit at the very beginning, there is a good chance that it will tempt you to spend more than you actually can. Calculate your potential spending and add a hundred or two – it will keep you at bay without much sacrifice. When opening a bank account, make sure to choose the one that has ATM’s on your campus to avoid ATM charges.
  2. Get yourself a budget plan. Yes, you should do what old and greedy people do – plan your spending. It is much easier to understand where your money goes if you have it all on paper. Plan your expenses at the beginning of the month, track your spending and then compare your expectation with actual spending – it should tell you where you declined from the plan.
  3. Research college meal plans. Students tend to neglect this option, considering it below their dignity. However, between a cafeteria and being broke in the middle of the month, the former seems to be much more preferable. Besides, a cafeteria is a place designated for students – make good use of it while you can, you might well miss it later.
  4. Research student discounts for places you go to in the free time. All kinds of places – cinemas, cafes, clubs. A great part of them offer student cards or discounts, which you can use to pay less.
  5. Everyone knows about buying used books, but if you prefer to go for new ones, choose online retailers over campus bookstores. The latter always set their prices higher.
  6. Get smart about your expenses. You might easily waste a chunk of your money on parking and library fines, and other costs you could’ve easily avoided if you’d been more careful. College life is about getting organized and careful, which is also applied to your finances.
  7. Use coupons. If you are ashamed of doing it, consider this: in the long run, who is smarter – the one who uses all reasonable means to save money, or the one who has the short-term satisfaction of paying the full price and avoiding the assumed embarrassment?

To wrap up, your spending should be well-planned and organized. There is nothing difficult in it – you should only try.