Five Tips for Managing your Money while in College

Prepare a monthly budget – This is both the easiest and the most important thing you can do to get your finances straight. You can’t be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand, you need a full accounting of all the money you have coming in and going out every month. And until you have all of this information, you can’t set up a monthly plan, or budget, to keep everything on track. Start by listing the money you make every month, and then listing all the monthly expenses. Look at your spending habits, and see in what areas spending can be reduced. This budget will be the foundation for your finances, and every few months you will need to go over it and revise it based on your new spending and saving habits.

When it comes to college, every dollar counts.  Photo by The Cleveland Kid

When it comes to college, every dollar counts. Photo by The Cleveland Kid

Work as much as you can – Find a part time job, and as you figure out your school routine, work as much as you can without working too much. This will vary from person to person. You don’t want to short change your education by working too much and leaving too little time to study, but beyond that get yourself working, and start saving money.

Use a credit card, but don’t overuse – You can’t build up credit without a credit card. For some people, credit cards help keep them going when times are lean. But it becomes very easy to rely on the credit cards and use them too much. It’s important to strike a balance between the two extremes: make sure to use the card on a regular basis, and to keep a standing balance on it. By the same token, make sure to make timely payments every month, and to keep the balance very low. This will see your credit rating improve, your credit limit grow, which will help you financially later in life.

Create an emergency fund – No matter how well you have crafted your monthly budget, there’s always a chance something unexpected and expensive will happen, and completely ruin the budget for a month,maybe even several months. A large expense like that can throw your routine into a tailspin, and leave you into a financial hole. Experts recommend creating and maintaining an emergency savings fund for just these occassions. By socking away two or three months worth of expenses as a back up plan, then a car accident or an emergency trip to the hospital might only be an inconvenience, and not financially devastating.

Pay it off quickly – Credit card payments, student loans, library fees, it doesn’t matter. Whatever debt you aquire, move to pay it off as quickly as you can without financially overextending yourself. A routine of regulae, timely bill paying and debt settlement will not only help your future credit standing, but help you stay on top of all your financial needs.

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