Managing your money in college is tough. There are so many books to buy, so many concerts to see, and so many drinks… to drink. But you don’t want to graduate buried in debt, right? We didn’t think so. Here’s ten tips on how to manage your money so Louie the Fish doesn’t have to break your kneecaps.
1. Keep an eye on it
Try checking your money for at least four weeks and find out where you are spending it. Sometimes we spend way too much on little things that we don’t notice and go overboard. When you know where your money is going, it’s easier to figure out where you can cut back and save some of it.
2. Start Planning
The best way to manage your money is to make a simple budget. List all your expenses from dorm payments and loans to a single bus fare. See how much you spend, and decide if you could be spending less in any category. Then plan your expenditures for the future and stick to the plan!
3. Allocate money for fun
Saving money doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of fun. Buy music, Starbucks, video games, but just make sure you budget it out and don’t go overboard.
4. Pace yourself
Some students tends to spend cash right when they get it. Just because you just got paid doesn’t mean you should run out and buy a plasma screen. Make sure you have some money at the end of the semester so you don’t have to give your parents construction paper dolls for Christmas… again.
5. Go easy with the credit cards
Having a credit card does not mean you have unlimited cash. Credit cards are great – they help you build credit, they are good for emergencies, and they’re more convenient and safer than cash – but they’re easy to abuse. In fact, that’s kind of the point. Credit card companies LOVE when you rack up debt. Learn to use your plastic sparingly, and pay your bill in full each month, and you’ll be fine.
6. Get real
There are things that you want to buy, but you can’t. Having a realistic mindset will lessen your urge to spend more than you have. Before you make a big purchase, just sleep on it for a night and ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” The answer may surprise you.
7. Budget for emergencies
Sometimes the unexpected happens, and it just doesn’t fit into your budget. Whether it’s a medical emergency or Springsteen tickets, sometimes you have to spend a little more than what you had planned. It helps to have a little wiggle room, or even a separate category in your budget for these sorts of things. But even if you don’t, don’t stress. You can always eat a little more Ramen next month.
9. Look ahead
Whether it’s a road trip with friends or an auto insurance bill, if you know a big expense is coming, start putting some money aside to pay for it. Don’t wait until the last minute.
10. Ask for help when you need it
Sometimes, even if you manage your money well, you still come up short. If this happens, suck it up and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether you ask friends or family, getting a loan from someone you know and trust is way better than a lifetime of high-interest debt.
Got some college budgeting tips? Post them as comments here or tweet us @DormDelicious