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College years are so much fun and memorable. You get to open a whole new chapter of your life, gain independence, and acquire new friends who may stick around for life. Still, there’s the other side of the story as well. For most college students, money can be quite an issue. You don’t have the time to work a full-time job, your expenses are high, and you can only lean on your family to a certain point.
This is why all college students need to learn basic financing tips. If you want to know how to save money or plan your expenses while in college, just keep reading. Below, you’ll find 5 smart personal finance tips for college students.
Let’s break it down together.
- Reduce Student Loan Debt
It would be ideal if you could be one of those students who can afford to go through college without taking a student loan. Still, a vast majority of students can’t afford this privilege and simply have to take a student loan.
But, there are ways for you to reduce your student loan debt if only you act wisely about it. Here are the factors you have to consider:
- applying for scholarships and grants
- choosing a less prestigious college that will give you the same level of education
- taking out minimal loans that are just enough to cover your expenses
- choosing loans with favorable interests rates
- joining a government program for paying it down
Do your research before you jump to any conclusions or make a decision about taking out a certain student loan. Once you have all the information, choose a loan that will be easier to pay.
- Create a Spending Plan
When it comes to taking care of your finances, budgeting is a must. And the basic step in creating your budget is defining your spending plan.
A spending plan will help you define and control how much money you spend a month and what you’re spending it on. Therefore, you should create a spending plan as follows:
- divide your monthly expenses into categories
- include categories such as food, housing, study materials, transportation, leisure, etc.
- forecast or define how much money you can spend on each category
- track it down during the month to make sure you’re staying within your budget
And, if you manage to spend less than you forecasted, make sure to put it into savings. This is a healthy and smart habit that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
- Create a Saving & Emergency Plan
The next step towards smart budgeting is creating a saving plan. You should try and define a certain sum of money that you’ll be able to set aside each month.
This will help you create a long term savings plan and make sure you’re not spending your money on trivial things.
Also, you should have a completely different emergency fund. This is where all your extra money goes, once you’ve paid all your bills and set aside the money for your savings. The emergency fund is for:
- unexpected situations
- urgent cases
You never know when you’ll be needing some money out of the blue, so an emergency fund is a great idea. Start building one as soon as possible and make sure you’re covered whatever happens.
- Learn How to Save
When you’re on your own for the first time, and you need to start saving money all of a sudden, it can be a challenge. College students mainly struggle to stay responsible and resist spending their money on things they don’t actually need but still crave to have or do.
This means that you need to learn how to save money while in college. Here are some practical tips for you to follow:
- don’t buy new textbooks, but borrow or buy used ones
- shop groceries in bulk with a roommate or friend
- eat in and cook more
- use your student discounts
- use the campus gym, library, counseling, and join clubs
- don’t own a car- use public transportation instead
- walk more & ride the bike
There are different ways for you to save a couple of dollars here and there, so make sure to explore your options and find ways to save money in everyday situations.
- Earn Money on The Side
If you truly want to make smart financing decisions while in college, you should definitely think about taking a part-time job and making some money on the side.
These jobs are great because they won’t take that much time out of your life, and you’ll still be able to study and stay a great student.
You could do jobs such as:
- tutoring online or in-person
- dog walking
- freelance social media manager
- freelance content writer
You can use any of your talents or skills to get a part-time job and earn the extra money you need to live a bit more comfortably while in college.
And remember, you can never spend more than what you earn. This way, you’ll be respecting your savings plan for sure.
It can be challenging and hard to take care of your finances when you’re just a college student. But, it’s a necessity if you want to finish college without a huge student loan or credit card debt.
Use the tips we’ve offered above to make smarter financial choices while in college. Hopefully, you’ll be applying these tips even when you finish college and start making more money.
About the Author: Diana Adjadj is a freelance writer and a blogger with years of professional training and experience. She currently works as a head writer at Subjecto. Diana covers topics ranging from personal growth to professional advancement.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.