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It’s a well-known fact that students have it hard. College is expensive, and while attending college, most students can’t manage to hold a full-time job. Budgeting is very important, and starting while you’re still in college can help you transition into your new independent life once you’ve graduated. When you’re a student, every dollar counts. Do you know how you’re spending your money?
Pick Your Budget System
Some people prefer to write things out, but tech-savvy people tend to use budget apps. Budget apps are the easiest way to budget, since you’ll already have your phone with you anywhere you go. Before you make an impulse purchase, you’ll be able to see how it will affect your finances for the rest of the month. You’ll want to keep it handy every time you whip out your debit card so you can instantly update purchases and track your expenditures. If you’re constantly updating, you’re less likely to make mistakes.
Think Long Term
Before you buy anything, consider what the long-term impact will be. Will the money you spend going out to dinner be enough to purchase two days’ worth of groceries? Is it worth going out to the bar with your friends when you can get twice as much for a third of the amount if you decided to drink at home? Everything you spend now is going to affect everything you do later. The occasional splurge won’t send everything into a tailspin if you make sure it’s only occasional.
Start Saving Now
Think of your savings account as a phantom bill. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but you should expect to put a little bit away each month. Worst case scenario, you have a tough month and you can’t afford to put something away. In best-case scenario, you have cash stowed away for an emergency. You already know you might be facing student debt, and you’ll have a lot of expenses right around the corner when you graduate and need to establish yourself. If you can manage to start a nest egg now, you’ll be grateful for it later.
Build Your Credit Carefully
Credit cards often get college students in trouble. It’s a combination of impulse control and cash is hard to come by. You’re going to need credit for everything in the future, and if you don’t already have a credit card, it’s a good time to get one. Use it to pay a specific bill every month, and don’t use it for anything else. Try to use no more than half of your limit. Doing so will keep you from getting in over your head while also providing you a little leeway for serious emergencies.
Take Advantage of Your Campus
Your campus has resources for you to use. You may not even be aware of how many things you have available to you. What amenities and facilities they don’t have, they may have partnerships with other businesses who offer them to students at a discounted rate. You’d be surprised to learn where you can save. Things like gym memberships may come to you much cheaper. Ask around, and see what you can get for free or cheap with a student ID. Many major businesses offer student discounts, and you should use them while you still have them.
You may have people telling you finances are easy, but that’s not always the case. It’s sometimes difficult to develop a budget and stick to it, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t meeting all your financial goals right away. Practice makes perfect.
About our guest blogger: With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She likes to cover stories in careers and marketing.