College is a whole new time and experience for young adults. Between going to a whole new school, you may be living on your own, starting your first job, managing money on your own for the first time, and so on. This can be a scary thing, but it is very possible to do it correctly!
These five easy tips will help you make the grade when it comes to managing your money:
This is incredibly important. List monthly income sources and then write down estimated expenses for the month. Use the Net Price Calculator to get an idea of what school will cost, but also think about costs such as school supplies, food, personal care items, and laundry into account. Then, try managing your budget and tracking expenses using an online tool like Mint.com, which helps you easily create and stick to a budget.
Is $30 per week for gas a "need" or a "want?" How much should you budget for food? After a few months tracking expenses, it becomes easier to distinguish wants from needs and put a plan into action. Some students give themselves a weekly cash allowance rather than carry a debit card, and when that week's allowance is gone, they wait until next week for more "wants."
Banks usually cater to students by offering free checking and saving accounts, which allows students to avoid fees on withdrawals or fund transfers. Shop around to find a bank with convenient ATMs near campus so you aren’t hit with out-of-network charges. And keep in mind that checks may take a few days to clear, so keep an eye on the account balance before spending against it.
College is a great time to start building credit (which is crucial for leasing an apartment, purchasing a vehicle, and even landing a job post-graduation), but it's easy for many to rack up a large amount of debt while in school. It's important to understand the difference between credit building and overextending. If you don't know, visit a business professor during office hours and ask!
College graduates tend to have a difficult time balancing student loan payments. Understand what the exact size of your student loan debt will be upon graduation, and come up with a plan for how you will pay it back.
Learning the basics when it comes to money management now means you don't have to graduate with massive debt. Laying the groundwork for smart budgeting and spending habits in college will help you in the future. Just remember, YOU’VE GOT THIS!