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I love talking about how to manage money in college. I just love money in general. In high school, we, unfortunately, were not taught how to manage money in college. College is expensive. For most people, it’s time to learn how to balance budgets, getting jobs, and stretching dollars to last a whole month.
This blog post will give you some tips on managing money in college!
How To Manage Money in College:
Write a monthly budget.
The first thing my father asks me at the beginning of the month is “Did you write a budget for this month? Do you know how much you spend a month?”
Ever since I established my first bank account, I wrote a monthly budget. I knew back freshman year that I needed to be careful with my money because I didn’t have any income coming in other than my parents’ occasional handouts and that refund check. There were tons of expenses I had to handle for the first time in my life.
To begin my monthly budget, I look up all my bills (phone, credit cards, etc.) that are necessary, any subscriptions (especially ones I split with my roommates and friends), and groceries. Whatever money I have left I put in saving and buy myself something I want that it reasonable (a book, vinyl, etc.)
Obviously, each person’s monthly budget will look different. It’s nice to have notifications for each bill and an alert for it. Planning a monthly budget will also make you avoid those dreaded overdraft fees from your bank.
DO NOT get a credit card.
Please, I beg you to do intense research on credit cards. Credit cards look like the golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to college students. You have a couple of hundreds of dollars (sometimes even thousands) at the tip of your hands. One swipe and can buy anything you want.
I fell victim to maxed out credit cards, and my parents scolding me to not open another line. My family encouraged me to establish a line of credit, but not spend it like I actually had $2,000. Guess why?
I did not have an actual, tangible amount of $2,000 that I could access.
I personally advise not to get a line of credit unless you know what you are doing and have control. I always thought that I would have the money to pay it off when I was working. But there’s this thing called interest that adds to your balance that I thought wouldn’t be so bad.
When first starting out, do research on credit cards, especially if you are working at a minimum wage job and have unstable hours. If you do want to get a credit card, do research, and know yourself before signing up for several cards. Look out for cards specifically for beginners or students with low-interest rates. If you can manage money that you have first, then you should get a credit card.
Do not live more than have.
Similarly to the credit card situation, I fell victim to living more than what I had coming in. I waited for refund checks to come in and think that’s the money I can spend. Planning a budget to manage your money in college can prevent this.
When you know how much money you have, you will not want to live off of $2 for two weeks. This also plays into comparison to others and the fear of missing out. We often get caught into buying stuff that we don’t need or want to impress others.
Sure, there’s a sale this weekend and you’re can put it on your credit card, but will you for sure have that amount to pay off before interest hits?
Do you really have to eat out four times a week when you can cook in your apartment?
Living within your means during college is a huge lesson. Income varies and sometimes unreliable. Starting a budget and sticking to it will help in the long run.
Take advantage of student discounts.
Student discounts are a blessing. There are so many discounts out there just for college students. All you need is your student ID and/or your school email for most of them.
You will never meet so many discounts for a group again until your senior citizen. Take advantage of them!
A simple Google search can give you tons of discounts. Some of the most known are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon Prime, and (my personal favorite) Spotify + Hulu.
Invest, instead of being cheap.
At first, the daunting price of some appliances, technology, and clothes may make you want to walk away. But one thing my stepfather taught me was that it’s better to buy quality than spending money again and again.
Buying a new white shirt every month will add up just about the same as a better quality shirt. The times you’ll need to repair your laptop will cut out time for you to study. Investing now will save you time and money in the future.
Save, and not spend.
Second, to the credit card advice, this is my most important tip. Almost half of US citizens are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s difficult to perfectly manage money in college and save due to unpredictable situations.
My advice to you is to open a bank account or find a credit union separate from your current one. This account should not be as easily accessible as your main account. This account will take a small amount out of your paycheck every time you get paid.
This blog post was all about how to manage money in college. I hope that you learn from my mistakes and manage your money better!