College is one of the most exciting times in life, but it also happens to be one of the most expensive times too. The financial choices students make while in school will have lasting effects on the state of their future finances.
Thankfully, new college students can start exercising smart fiscal habits now that help set the tone for a healthy financial future.
1. Search for Available Scholarships
Most students need to take out student loans to get them through four years of college. The amount of loans and the type vary based on the amount of Federal Student Aid available and the school they attend. Students attending private institutions or those who are out of state typically pay more for tuition each semester. No matter the cost of attendance, one of the best ways to offset the amount of loans needed is to apply for scholarships.
As students make their way through school, new scholarships opportunities open up for them. Popular scholarship options exist for fraternity and sorority members and those students studying a particular major. There are also scholarships awarded to students based on academic merit or for those who participate in certain clubs or other extracurricular activities.
2. Star Building Credit Responsibly
College campuses are a popular place for credit card companies to promote their products. Although it can be all too easy for students to open up multiple accounts at once, it’s best to start slow and build up credit over time.
Open up one account, never spend more than can be paid back, and always make payments on time are three easy ways for students to establish good credit for themselves early on.
Click here for tips on how to save money as a student
3. Set a Budget and Stick to It
An easy way for students to stay on top of finances is to set a budget. Creating a successful budget doesn’t require a lot of time or effort. To get started, students should sit down and outline their spending habits compared to their actual expenses and income.
By taking an honest assessment of spending habits compared to what income is coming in, students can make a realistic budget that they can actually stick to.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to be Frugal
Embracing a frugal lifestyle is an easy way to keep finances in check while in college. One perk of being a college student is all of the discounts a school ID provides. Some popular student discounts include things like a certain percent off at retail establishments, discounts on must-haves like car insurance, and even reduced-cost monthly cell phone plans.
Don’t underestimate how many student discounts are available. Even small discounts can quickly add up to some pretty impressive monthly savings. If a business doesn’t openly advertise student discounts, just ask. It’s surprising how many will offer some kind of savings for students.
5. Get a Job
When students exercise financial best practices and still find money is tight, it might be time to get a part-time job to help ease money-related burdens. Thankfully, there are a ton of flexible options available to students that fit around busy class schedules while still allowing plenty of time for studying and socializing.
There are even a number of legitimate work from home or dorm options for students looking to supplement their income each month. Tutoring, writing, and usability testing are great ways for students to work whenever they’d like.
Check out our post on under the table jobs, which looks at side hustle opportunities for students to make extra money on the side.
Stick With It
Responsible financial habits aren’t established overnight. New college students who make their finances a priority will find that, over time, their smart financial decisions while in school give them a fiscal head start in life.
About Guest Blogger
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently
writes for Checkworks.com, a leading supplier of personal and business checks.
Excellent tips here. It’s so important to learn to pay attention to your spending when in college. I’d add as a tip: ask an older student what they do to save money. They often know where the cheapest food on campus is, the best place to purchase used textbooks, etc.