Budget 101: How To Keep Your Finances in Order in College
As if moving away from home and entering college for the first time isn’t hard enough, now you need to worry about how to handle any money that comes your way!
Stay calm and know that you aren’t the only student trying to get their finances figured out. With a little planning ahead of time you will be on your way to financial success.
How To Keep Your College Finances in Order
Create a Budget
This is the very first step you should take when you are preparing to move out and move into college. It’s how you will control your money–and your spending! Learning to manage your finances from the beginning should set you up for a lifetime of budgeting success! Look online or visit your local library for information on how to create a budget for a college student.
Show Me the Money
Do you understand how your bills are going to be paid? Who is taking care of your college textbooks? Tuition? What about fees for extracurricular activities or Greek life? Ask your parents now how they plan to handle your time away to lessen any surprises.
Many college students fall into the credit card trap but very few have the self control to really limit their spending! The bottom line is this: if you can’t afford something now, the very last thing you should do is open a credit card! Instead, consider taking on a part time job or talk to your parents about your financial pinch. You don’t want to tack on credit card debt on top of any future school loans.
It can be tempting to go out and blow money on new clothes, dinners out, and all the fun things there are to see and do in a new place. Instead, try to make do with less. Stick around on campus as often as possible. Many clubs have pizza nights or other evenings where they provide dinners so you don’t need to feel tied to the college cafeteria. Get involved in things on campus, find clubs and activities that you care about and fill up your free time (when you aren’t studying, of course) with projects that are meaningful to you.
After School Job
While it may not be possible for every student, if you can spare a little extra time and really need some extra cash, you can look for an on-campus job! By sticking around on campus, you avoid any extra commute, as well as wear and tear on your car and the gas that goes in it. Just don’t work so much it interferes with your grades and college classes, since that is the reason you are in college in the first place! If you redo your budget and don’t see any way to come out on top, then an after school job may be in order. Check with your school about how to find a job at college.
It’s not easy but if you can resist the urge to spend beyond your means, and avoid a call home for money, it will not only make a big impression on your parents but help set you up for a future of handling money the right way!