College can be a difficult time for students financially. Money management is not a skill most learn in high school. As a result, many students rely on part-time jobs, family members, savings, and student loan programs to help make ends meet.
In this guide, we’re looking at some simple but extremely effective money management tips to help students finance their education while reducing financial stress.
Budget for Everything
If you want to avoid falling into financial trouble, budgeting is one the best money management tips you should put to use.
Be aware of all the money that is coming in — and going out — each month. This includes your rent payments, phone bill, health insurance costs, grocery bill, and any recurring student fees.
By keeping track of where you’re money is going each month, you’ll also be able to see how much you have left over.
If you have more money coming in than going out, you can start saving the extra cash for rainy day and future expenses. If you’re coming up short, you might want to consider increasing your loan amounts or even getting a part-time job.
Which brings us to our next tip…
Work a Part-Time Job
Many students worry about getting a part-time job. Not because they don’t want to put in the extra work, but because they fear it might negatively impact their studies. However, there are a lot of jobs out there that can easily fit into college students’ busy schedules.
For instance, if your weekdays are jam-packed, consider picking up some late night or weekend shifts. If travel-time is an issue, look into on-campus jobs.
The world of part-time work has changed, too. Now, more than ever, you can explore jobs that allow you to work from home. This makes it even easier to fit work around your class schedule.
The more entrepreneurial out there might even try to create their own job! Start a small business that capitalizes on your skills. Not only will you learn more about the world of entrepreneurship, but you’ll also be bringing in some extra dollars to help get you through your studies.
[For even more ideas on how to make money from your room click here.]
Take Advantage of Second-Hand
When you receive your student loans, it can be tempting to spend the money on new items you need for school like textbooks, clothes, and dorm/apartment supplies.
Although your student loans are meant to cover these expenses, you should take advantage of the second-hand market for things of this nature. That way, you can use the bulk of the loans for more important expenses like rent and tuition costs.
Instead of purchasing new textbooks, buy them second-hand. Then, when you’re done with them, sell them back.
For new clothes and home furnishings, try vintage and thrift shops. You’ll be able to score truly unique pieces at a fraction of the price.
Get the Best Loans Available
The student loan market is big. It is also one of the few times in life when you won’t have to worry about credit score ranges and eligibility as many providers have very flexible regulations for students.
Often, student loan providers work with universities and colleges to ensure students who want loans have access to them. Always try to take advantage of the best rates available to you.
Before accepting the first student loan you’re offered, explore your options. Pay special attention to interest rates and payback plans. And remember, you do not have to accept the full amount being offered.
Don’t Go Crazy on Social Spending
With less responsibilities and more freedom, college is the perfect time to engage with your peers and experience new things. And while there’s nothing wrong with having an active social life in college, it’s important that you don’t go too crazy on social spending.
Overdoing it on entertainment and social engagements is a quick and easy way to run into student debt.
To avoid overspending, limit the number of nights you go out. And on those nights you do venture out, set a spending limit. Take cash out ahead of time and leave your credit card at home so you aren’t tempted to spend more.
You should also consider making use of student unions or student bars where the prices might be more affordable.
There are also lots of ways to have fun for free. Take advantage of things like art galleries that offer free admission and state parks that offer hiking trails. Or just have a fun night in with friends playing boardgames or hosting a movie night.
Always Check for Student Discounts
Never spend any money without checking for student discounts first.
For instance, if you buy an Apple product from an electronic store they might not offer a student discount. However, if you buy directly from Apple, they usually offer a discounted rate for students.
It’s worth checking for every single purchase you make as a student from laptops to theater tickets. Even certain clothing stores offer reduced prices for students. Just make sure you have a valid student ID!
Learn to Cook Cheap Meals
It’s amazing how much eating out can cost you.
One of the best ways to avoid financial problems as a student is to learn how to cook cheap meals at home. That doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice in taste either.
There a lots of great cookbooks and meal ideas specifically designed for students that are easy, cheap, and tasty!
When you go grocery shopping, take advantage of coupons and weekly specials. It’s also usually cheaper to buy store brands rather than big name brands.
And if you’re on a student meal plan, take some Tupperware containers with you the next time you go to the dining hall.
Talk to Campus Services
Your university may have staff specifically employed to help with financial difficulties and money management. They may be able to help you get lending, no matter what credit score ranges you fall into.
There could also be grants and scholarships available that you didn’t even know about. These can be specific to each educational establishment so it is really important that you speak to people who represent your college and see what they can offer.
About Jim Hughes: Jim is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business topics for almost three years. At the moment he works as a content manager at OpenCashAdvance.com.