College life exposes students to new environment, friends and campus and at the same time exposes them to hard financial realities of life. Despite facilities for scholarships and various types of financial aids, student life today, is an expensive venture. Hence students ought to know and implement money saving and management tricks to help them comfortable sail through the most exciting phase of their life. Here we offer some smart and simple tips to help students manage their finances well.
1. Buy textbooks sagaciously
Textbooks are a huge expense for students. Textbooks are especially expensive when bought from college or university bookstores. Though some professors make small alterations and updates in the content of the textbook each year, a huge majority follow the same textbooks every year. This means students should avoid purchasing full priced textbooks from their campus bookstores unless it is obligatory. The same textbooks can be purchased in cost cutting ways such as from used bookstores, rental programs or online deals.
Many colleges even host bookstores where used textbooks are made available in very low prices and in good condition. Students can even go for online purchase – the prices are going to be relatively low even after including shipping charges. Textbook rental programs are also good option, so search for such programs in your college campus. Apart from these options, borrowing and sharing the textbooks will lower your bills. However, if you don’t like sharing, there are various other ways. Look for open-source textbooks, browse websites that offer textbooks for rent and search posts on the campus bulletins. iPad and Kindle users can go for online downloads of books which saves lot of money. Keep in mind that once the school year is over, selling used books to those who need them for their semester is a good option.
2. Differentiate wants from needs
It is good idea to identify your wants and needs for reducing some expenses. For instance, setting your meal plan is one of the needs that make huge difference to your budget. Proper research on meal plans and planning your daily eating schedule will help save money. Most of the colleges and universities have their own off-campus meal plans that may include deals with food chains. Opt for them if you find them appealing or look for discount cards, bulk offers and plan with your friends or roommates to have budget meals. Gas, non-meal plan food and laundry cost also affects your budget and it is important to distinguish whether they come under wants or needs, to make appropriate plan. To reduce the load, look for money saving means such as prepaid gas cards and nonperishable food packages etc. Also, alternative transportation such a local buses and subway can save expenses on gas.
3. Prepare a budget plan for personal finance management
This is an extremely important step that exposes students to budget planning and to smart money management. To design the plan, know various sources of income such as university grants, student loans, part-time job earnings, monthly savings, parental allowance and other financial aids. Also, identify college living expenses for planning a budget. By classifying the expenses it is easy to find out where the spending are more. Further, students will know how to make choices and manage all the expenses within their budget.
4. Sign out for a checking account
Students can opt for checking account that is provided free of cost by many banks. Setting up such account allows them to avoid fees charged on fund transfers, withdrawals and minimum balance. Tracking the account activity through online banking can help in organizing the account balance and spend accordingly. It also helps in watching out the budget.
5. Choose the right credit cards
Though market is full of credit card companies offering various discounts and college-centric offers on purchasing their credit card, it is crucial to select the right one. These offers may lure students to take impulsive decisions that will later drag them to debts. So it is good idea to avoid such offers and invest only in credit cards that come with cash back or points and low interest rates. Finally, pay the credit amount in time to avoid bad credit score.
6. Make use of student debts wisely
Give maximum time to know about various financial aids and loans for students before opting for them. Find out the student loan’s actual debt size and plan on how to repay it. Use the borrowed money only on necessities – food plan, tuition fee, housing and transportation. Avoid spending the funds on extravagant things.
7. Seek work-study positions for extra funds
Part time jobs are available for students in colleges as well as off-campus. They give students flexibility in their spending by earning extra income. However, it is important to choose the right type of job that doesn’t affect studies. This income is useful to pay some bills or even for reimbursing already existing loans.