While the upcoming years will prepare you for your future, you don’t want to let financial difficulties weigh you down when you graduate. Which is why we have pulled together the following tips to put you, and keep you, on the right financial path!
Write it all down
Step one is create a budget. This is as simple as writing down your income (student loans, financial aid, employment pay and any help from family) and your expenses. If listing your expenses seems overwhelming – break it down to what you spend in one day and then gradually calculate the increase to a week and then a month. There are a variety of online money management tools – but a simple Excel sheet works just fine.
Organize your expenses into categories. Make a careful list of the essentials (food, books, health, transportation) and things that are optional (new clothes, concerts etc.). Then take a close look at both categories and see where you might be able to save. Ask yourself the tough questions – do you really need unlimited texting? Could you better utilize all the free communication channels like Facebook and email?
If your budget can’t balance and you are still in need of cash flow – consider these ideas to save and/or generate income or save money.
- Sell your used books online
- Tutor other students in your best subject(s)
- Check with your school. Local residents and businesses often contact colleges when looking for “freelance” help with babysitting, dog walking, tutoring for children, odd jobs, special events, and the like. There may even be interesting part-time jobs available that will fit into your academic schedule.
By now most people are aware of the dangers of credit cards, but a credit card can be a great tool for building credit. That’s why we suggest for everyday expenses, use a debit card linked to your checking account, but have a credit card on hand for emergencies, or to make small purchases on a regular basis. Just remember to pay off the balance as soon as possible.
Frequent attention to your budget and cash flow is crucial. As a general rule, the tighter your cash flow, the more often you have to monitor your budget. While daily management may seem like too much, a weekly check-in is a good place to start. Never be late paying your bills – added interest and fees can create additional expenses.
Available tools like Online Banking can help you keep track by allowing you to access your accounts and check your balances easily. E-mail alerts can also help you keep an eye on your accounts by sending you a notice anytime your balances drop below a certain level.
If you are getting help from home, be sure to communicate all of your spending activity and needs frequently. Do your parents (and yourself) a favor and show them how well you are managing your money – and theirs. Make your budget an open book.
For added convenience, consider linking your accounts so your parents can easily transfer money into your account when you need it.
Beyond monetary reward
Have you ever noticed that people who manage their money well seem so confident? By managing the money you have – you remove what could otherwise be an encompassing stress. Self-discipline and a respect for your financial limitations are empowering and free your mind for learning! Share your knowledge with your friends.