When you start college, you leave the comfort of your home and your family’s financial support behind, or at least that’s what you are expected to do. As you take this big step in your life, you also have to prepare for a variety of challenges, which include creating a bright career, learning self-dependency and, of course, money management.
If you think that you are not good with money, or if your expenses are creating new problems for you, then check out the tips below.
1. Pick a Good Student Credit Card
Credit cards make our lives easier by simplifying payments and allowing us to buy expensive things with EMIs. However, if you want the maximum benefits, then you need to ditch your regular credit card for a proper student credit card.
The best student credit cards come with perks that are specially designed for college students. For instance, they have no annual fee, which means that you can afford them easily. Plus, you don’t need to have credit or proof of income to get a student credit card.
That said, it’s important that you pick your card after doing research, as there are many options in the market and some may be more suited to you than others.
2. Find a Job
As a student, you have a lot on your plate already: assignments, projects, exams and more. Thus, it’s not easy to manage a full-time or even a part-time job with college, even if you need a secondary source of income.
But what if you could learn how to earn money without committing to a job? It’s actually a lot easier than you think.
There are many types of jobs that are quite flexible and thus perfect for college students. Some good examples include: dog walking, participating in psychological experiments, freelance writing and translation services
3. Create a Budget
If you don’t know where your money is going, you can easily end up in massive debt. To avert this disaster, create your monthly budget as soon as possible. Ideally, it should have the following categories:
Monthly Bills: You can have two types of bills: high-priority bills and low-priority bills. The former includes food, student loan, rent and transportation, i.e. the things that can’t do without.
The latter includes things that you have to pay for, though they aren’t necessary; examples include high-speed internet, a Netflix account, going out for movies, etc.
Savings: This is how much you are saving every month after paying your high-priority and low-priority bills. Ideally, you should have at least 10 percent of your income left after you have dealt with all expenses, including the unexpected ones, which brings us to the next category.
Emergency Fund: There will always be some expenses that you can’t predict in advance. For instance, if your car needs maintenance or your internet bill is inflated, then you need some extra money to manage all this. So, it’s highly recommended that you set up an emergency fund for a rainy day.
You don’t have to create and update your financial records manually. Instead, you can just download any of the top budgeting apps on your smartphone and update the records on the go. These apps allow are incredibly useful, as they allow you to track your expenses in real-time and also alert you when you go off the budget.
4. Save Money on College Textbooks
According to the National Association of College Stores, college students spend an average of $579 on 10 required course materials in a year, which is not a small expense by any means. However, you can save a lot of money here if you shop smartly. The following are a few tips on that.
Buy Used Books
Instead of buying new books from your local store, find used books. Most books are simply reprinted every year, which means that the contents remain the same.
So, there is no point for spending money on a book when you can get it for 50 percent of the price, or even less. There are many websites and apps where you can find used books easily, such as book.ly and thriftbooks.com
Check Your Library
It might be a good idea for you to frequent your campus library more often. You can find all the books you need in the library and can write your notes when you’re inside.
If your college allows you, then you can even borrow the books to take them to your place with you.
If you can’t find a particular book in used condition or in the library, then you can simply buy a new book together with a friend or your roomie. This way, you can split the cost and divide the burden.
5. Pay Bills on Time
Whether it’s your student loan EMIs or credit card bills, you want to ensure that each payment is made on time. This is because when you carry over your credit card balance to the next month, it attracts interest, which means your debt increases further.
Similarly, if you delay your loan EMIs, then you often have to pay a fine for the same. These are unnecessary expenses. Moreover, your credit score takes a hit when you develop bad financial habits like these.
When you have a low credit score and you try to get a new loan or a credit card, you might not get the best offers or interest rates. So, make sure that you are on top of your payments. Also, make it a point to check your credit report every once in a while to identify loose ends or discrepancies if there are any.
6. Use Student Discounts
As a student, you can take advantage of special student discounts on a variety of deals on college and lifestyle websites. For instance, if you shop frequently from Amazon, then instead of getting its regular Amazon Prime membership, you can get the Prime Student membership, which gets you first six months absolutely free. After that, it’s just $59 a year (regular membership is $119 a year).
Similarly, if you want to learn new skills on Skillshare, then you can sign up as College Info Geek reader to get two months of a free trial against the one-month free trial that’s offered to regular users.