How to Manage Finances Easily While Enrolled in College

How to Manage Finances Easily While Enrolled in College
  • Opening Intro -

    So you’re applying for colleges and reading Independence University reviews online, preparing for college life to be here soon.

    You're going to have a lot of new freedoms in your life, but you'll have a lot more responsibilities too.

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You’ll probably be working a part-time job alongside your daily classes, and you’ll be paying some of your own bills too. But don’t stress out about it too much. With a few simple personal finance tips below, you’ll be managing your money like a pro.

1. Track Every Penny

The first step to managing your money is to figure out where it’s all going every month, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to scan or enter all your receipts into a money tracking apps like Mint and Spending Tracker. Most of these apps can also give you reminders when your bills are almost due, so that can help you avoid those late fees too.

Sometimes it can seem a little complicated, but the bottom line is that you shouldn’t be spending more money than you make every month. If you’re having that problem, then you need to make some serious changes. See the next point.

2. Watch Out For Credit Cards

Credit card debt is a huge problem in America. Well, it’s not a problem for the credit card companies – they love it. But for the rest of us, credit cards can cause many problems that spill over into all areas of your life. Credit cards can be used responsibly, and some of them can offer some benefits. But if you’re carrying a balance every month and not paying those cards off, then the money you’re losing on interest payments and late fees is outweighing the benefits. You need to get that under control, because if you don’t, that debt is going to make you miserable for years to come. Use credit cards responsibly, or don’t use them at all.

3. Spend Your Paycheck As Quickly As Possible

Your dad may have taught you not to let your money burn a hole in your pocket and urged you to hold onto it for as long as possible. Well, Dad had the right idea, but his method was all wrong.

As soon as you get your paycheck or allowance, you should probably spend that money as soon as possible on things that you need. These would include your rent, utilities, cell phone bill, car payment, insurance, groceries and gas. Don’t wait for the due date; pay your bills as soon as your money hits your bank account, because the longer that money sits in your account or in your pocket, the more likely you are to spend it on unnecessary items. Pay your bills and living expenses first, then use whatever’s leftover to go have some fun.

4. Don’t Waste Money on School Meal Plans

If it’s your freshman year, then your school probably requires you to purchase a meal plan—with the cost rolled into your tuition—from the school cafeteria. If your parents are paying, then you take what they give you. If you’re paying out of pocket yourself, then you’ll get the cheapest cost per meal by going with the unlimited meals plan. Otherwise, the lower plans can have you paying upwards of $10 per meal, and that’s just way too much for cafeteria food.

Then, once your first year on campus is behind you, you’ll have more freedom to get your own place and prepare your own meals. That can save you a ton of money on food expenses.

5. Never Pay Full Price for Textbooks

The school bookstore may be convenient, but you’re likely going to be paying hundreds of dollars more than you have to if you’re buying all your textbooks and supplies in there every semester. One option is to skip the traditional route and just purchase e-textbooks that you can download onto a tablet or laptop. But an even cheaper option is to purchase used textbooks online at sites like Amazon or Chegg or even eBay. You can sometimes get away with buying earlier editions of the textbook that your class requires and save even more money in the process, but even buying the current edition online will save you some cash.

The same principle applies when selling those books back at the end of the semester. Your college bookstore isn’t likely to give you much for them, so be sure to check out the selling prices online. You might make out pretty well selling them yourself on eBay. Just be sure to check the actual prices that the books are selling for and not just the list price—there’s usually a huge difference!

Your college years are going to be some of the best years of your life, but if you aren’t managing your finances well and are racking up debt, you could be creating problems that will haunt your for years. To prevent that from happening, follow these five tips to help you get through college with your bank account and credit score intact.

Consumer Tips reference:

aid checklist for students

 
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Last update on 2017-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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