6 Important Financial Tips for University Students
College is an exciting time, but it’s also an expensive time. So, before you hit the books, study up on these seven essential tips to get a handle on your finances and get the most out of your college experience, for the lowest cost possible.
Financial Aid Options
There are scholarships and grants out there for more than you might realize, the key is in making the most of the options available to you. There are grants related to hobbies you pursue and the major you’re going into. If you live close enough, could you commute to class rather than paying for an on-campus residence? Could you learn to cook so you can avoid costly student meal plans? Bear in mind that some college “expenses” aren’t necessarily mandatory.
Your finances need to have a plan in place to keep everything in order, or you’ll find yourself falling behind fast. You don’t have to track every dollar, just have a basic idea the money that’s coming in and going out every month. You should know how much you are earning, where or how you are spending your money like rent, groceries, utilities, meals, transportation, etc. You should at least know ballpark figures.
Keep it easy to stay within your budget by using the “envelope system.” Under this system, you set a budget for the week, the month, or the next pay period. You put that money into envelopes marked “groceries” and “gas,” and you pay for those expenses out of those envelopes. Once you’re out of money, you’re out. This system keeps you from over-spending and prevents you from accidentally going into debt. When you can physically see how much cash you have left, it’s a lot easier be careful with it.
Avoid Credit Cards
Whenever possible, try to avoid charging your expenses on plastic. Being able to “afford” an extra concert ticket or fancy dinner isn’t worth having to work extra hours to pay down sky-high interest rates later. You’re already probably going to emerge from school with some student loans to pay off — don’t make impulsive decisions and put yourself in trouble with extra payments from credit cards.
Don’t be one of those students who decide they must live the high life in order to enjoy their college experience, although being broke is part of the college experience. You can reward yourself for a long week of studying by having a game night with your friends, rather than lining up shots at the bar. If ever there was a time in your life when it’s okay to play the frugality card, it’s now. Make smart money decisions now and your future self will thank you.
Being a student will give you mad perks. Students can reap all sorts of benefits with their campus ID, from discounts at local restaurants to a percentage off that new laptop you need to get for class. Before you make any major purchases, like a computer or an expensive set of paints for your art class, ask the retailer about student discounts. College isn’t cheap, but if you make the right moves, you can keep these costs at a reasonable level.