One of the most stressful times of year has begun for many college students. The new school year is upon us, as well as the bills that come along with it.
The months of August and September are incredibly expensive for most students. Between tuition, books, supplies, rent and transportation, students are pretty much obligated to spend a ridiculous amount of money just to get going with the school year.
Lucky for you, we have some really interesting ways you may be able to save this year in hopes of starting the fall semester off on the right note!
8 Simple Financial Tips For College Students
Developing good financial habits, and managing your expenses while in college does not have to be intimidating. You have the power to own both your financial history and your financial future with a few simple, calculated steps. The most efficient manner in which to reach financial security is through budgeting.
Most college students are familiar with the concept of budgeting. The tricky part of budgeting really when your income sources are less than the monthly bills or yearly tuition charges.
1. Know your credit score
Your credit score is incredibly important to your financial future. The credit score you have is based upon your debt, whether you make timely payments, and any delinquencies you may have.
Keeping your credit score in good shape and free from errors will allow you the lowest prices on insurance, and the lowest rates of interest on loans and credit cards. Lowering your future insurance premiums and interest rate will save a great amount of money over time that can be then redirected either into your budget or into savings. You can get free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Potential employers also use your credit score to gauge your employability. Keeping your credit score on point makes you look responsible and reliable to potential employers. Keeping abreast of your credit report will keep you on top of your financial game and a step ahead of the competition. Using a credit monitoring system can be an important tool in aiding college students to utilize their credit score to their advantage.
2. Choose a Budget
Budgeting isn’t just for “adults.” Ask anyone who has ever faced financial difficulty as an adult and they’ll tell you just how important it is to learn to budget at an early age. Young adults need to learn how to budget their income versus expenses in college – which is most definitely one of the most expensive periods in one’s life.
Remaining on a budget will allow you to save money while not accruing more debt. Accruing debt will only compound as the years go on. Sticking to a strict budget is imperative to a student’s financial future.
3. Use online spending trackers to analyze your spending
Apps are available for anyone interested in tracking their spending and on any device. Make technology work for you, and utilize spending and saving apps where available. Using resources online to monitor spending, credit scores, and credit reports is also a great preventative measure against identity theft and unauthorized charges.
4. Use cash as much as possible
Debit cards, Apple Pay, PayPal, and Bitcoins have gained popularity in recent years and cash is somewhat becoming a thing of the past. Without holding money in your hand it’s difficult to think about and realize how much you’re actually spending. Swiping a card is a lot easier than paying someone a large bill. Without the reality of spending, one may be more apt to over spend and rack up debt as a result. Using cash will help a college student remain on a budget and visualize the spending the money.
5. Work side jobs when possible
Going to college is a full time job. With classes, labs, lectures, seminars, and projects to complete, there is little time for much else. Many college students may be reluctant to commit to a job given the unpredictable hours of both the job and school work.
A good alternative to working a steady job is working side jobs online. One may find jobs writing, blogging, designing, drawing, driving, sewing, babysitting, and many more, all online. Using online resources such as Uber, Upwork, Etsy, Ebay, and Care.com, may also allow you the flexibility of earning money when it’s convenient for you.
Side jobs that require simply a few hours on random days and times that fit your schedule may help boost your money making power and may even elevate your budget to give you some comfort.
6. Do not use private student loan lenders
Using private lenders rather than government-backed student loans is a risky financial decision for college students. Private lenders charge higher interest rates than government student loans. The loans may end up costing a college student much more over the time of life of the loan.
7. Use student and school discounts wherever possible and for as much money as possible
Student discounts may not seem like much to the average student. A discount of $1 or even 50 cents here and there may not sound like its worth the hassle of asking for the discount and showing your ID card. But college is a four-year commitment. Change adds up, and a dollar here and there WILL make a big difference.
It takes just a second to ask whether the restaurant you’re at, the gym you go to, the movie theatre, or any other service you use provides a discount for students. Especially if you go to school in a “college town,” you’re bound to save A LOT by taking just a second to ask whether they can hook a student up!
Software companies and online services like Amazon offer student discounts that will put hundreds of dollars back into your pocket every semester.
8. Protect your personal information
College students are prime targets for identity theft and credit card fraud due to their relatively untouched credit history, their lack of investment, and their lack of knowledge on financial issues. Just check your credit card history every few days to make sure there’s nothing fishy going on in your spending.