Students have a lot to balance all at once. With classes, jobs, social life, extracurriculars and new adult responsibilities to stay on top of, managing money as a college student may not be top of mind. However, college is the perfect time to start establishing healthy spending habits. Here are some finance tips for college students that will put you on the path toward building financial stability.
Create a Budget
Budgeting is probably the last thing you’ll want to do when you arrive on campus, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming. Free budgeting apps can help you stay on top of all your expenses and income to ensure you’re not spending more than you’re bringing in, whether that’s from a job, your parents or elsewhere. Create budget categories for your most common expenses, like rent, tuition, food, and entertainment, and set realistic limits for what you’ll need each month. If you buy all your own groceries, a $50 monthly grocery budget is probably not practical. Learn along the way with your spending habits and consistently update your budget to stay in line.
Track Your Spending
Once you have your budget set up, it’s time to put it to use by tracking and evaluating your spending habits. Just because you’re tracking your spending, it doesn’t mean you can’t spend money on “extras,” like occasional lattes or concert tickets. It just means you’re holding yourself accountable. If you’re having the urge to buy a new pair of shoes, check to see if it fits in your budget first. When you have your finances under control, you have more energy to focus on your education.
Be Responsible with Credit Cards
Having student debt is already a burden on your finances. You don’t want to accumulate credit card debt on top of that. Should you decide to open your first credit card while in college, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Many cards carry annual fees, high interest rates and other hidden penalties or late fees that can impact your finances and credit score. An important rule of thumb is to only spend what you know you’ll be able to pay back that month.
Work On Your Credit Score
It’s never too early to start building your credit score. Your credit score impacts your job prospects, ability to rent an apartment and eligibility for low interest rates on loans.5 How can you achieve that elusive 800+ credit score? Focus on making on-time payments on your credit cards, always paying off your credit card fully and avoid opening too many accounts.5 You can also begin to establish a good credit history by making payments toward your student loans.
Get a Job
As a college student, earning your degree is your full-time job, but working a part-time job can give you some work experience, extra cash, and peace of mind that you won’t go into debt. Finding a job or internship in your desired field is best, but even a job at the campus coffee shop will help you pay off student loans faster and learn to manage your time.
Open a Savings Account
You may not have much left over from each paycheck to add to a savings account, but every little bit helps. If nothing else, using a savings account will help you stay in the mindset of being financially responsible. Plus, having a little extra set aside could save the day if you experience any emergencies. A good way to begin establishing an emergency fund is to designate an amount of your paycheck to directly deposit into your savings account.
College textbooks are notoriously expensive, but a used version of the same textbook can easily be a fraction of the price. Check online retailers for used copies or eBook versions, which are often significantly cheaper.4 Renting textbooks is another option that saves you the trouble of having to sell your textbooks at the end of the semester.
Books aren’t the only thing you can buy used. With the volume of students moving each year, college campuses are a treasure trove of used furniture, appliances, and decor. You may even be able to find what you need for free!
There’s a learning curve when it comes to managing money as a college student. If you need a little extra cash to make it through the semester, LendNation has got you covered. We offer flexible loans that can get you the cash you need. The application is easy, and you can apply in-store or online, whichever is most convenient for you. Find a location or apply online.
Loans are not available to members of the military.
Customer Notice: There are a wide variety of financial products available in the marketplace, so your choice of such products should match your financial needs. Short-term, small dollar credit used over a long period of time can be expensive. Certain restrictions may apply, including state database and credit underwriting standards and limitations. Visit a LendNation store or contact us for details.
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