Making money in college is difficult, let alone saving and managing it. Between campus events, books, housing, and meal plans, college seems to eat money. Whether you have a job in college or your parents help you pay your way, knowing how to save and manage your money is incredibly important for a number of reasons. But even if you know you should save and manage money better, what's the best way to actually go about doing so?
Flash Your Student ID Card
Many businesses, like retailers, restaurants, and gyms, offer student discounts upon proof of enrollment. Never be afraid to ask businesses around your campus if they provide a discount. Even if it's small, purchases add up very quickly, so having a minute discount can make a big impact.
Never Pay Full Price
Textbooks are one of the most expensive aspects of college. A single textbook for a core class could cost anywhere between $50-300, so when you're taking a full load of classes, the books add up quickly. Most college bookstores offer the option to buy or rent used or new books. It's most likely that you'll never need or read a textbook after the class is over, so your best option is to rent used.
There are also online services, such as Amazon Student and Chegg, who offer textbook rental services at a fraction of the cost. They also usually offer free shipping and return shipping, and sometimes will throw in a few extra goodies with your order, like detergents pods and energy drinks.
Create a Budget
Start by looking at all monthly sources of income (where you get your money). Income can consist of paychecks from a job, money from parents, loans and grants, or side gigs. Basically, if it puts money in your pocket, it's a source of income. Now, add all those up.
Then, look at what money is spent on. This can include paid subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, etc.), phone bills, and any other monthly expense you have to pay.
From here, you'll want to subtract your expenses (money out) from your income (money in). Whatever you have left is what you have to work with for the rest of the month. This money can be spent on activities with friends, saved (recommended) or on discretionary expenses, which are your non-essentials like coffee, new clothes, etc.
Creating a budget will help you see where your money is coming and going. It allows you to understand how much you can comfortably spend a month, without going broke or missing an important payment.
If balancing a checkbook sounds like something only your parents do, you can bring the process of budgeting and tracking money into the 21st century by using an app. Keeping track of your spending is essential and will help you avoid embarrassing moments when you think you have money, but your bank account says otherwise. Check out apps like Mint, Wally, and PocketGuard, which all link to your bank account and lets you keep track of purchases, payments, and money received.
All of these apps will assist you in understanding the kinds of things you spend your money on, and will keep you up to date on your spending and account balances. Though your bank may have an associated app that displays your balance and your purchases, they aren't updated as quickly as you might need them to be. Keeping track of your spending through an app not only provides you with the most accurate and up-to-date picture of your finances, it also helps you gain responsibility and accountability of your finances.
College is stressful. Money can be stressful. That's why it's important to get a handle on both rather early in your college career. If you learn how and where to save your money, you'll be setting yourself up for financial success for the rest of your college career and all that follows. For more information on college finances and saving money, visit RichardFunchess.net
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