Tips to Rule Your Money in College (Not the Other Way Around)
Money is something you need support your college experience, but it shouldn’t rule your experience. From finding ways to save money to learning how to manage it effectively, these tips will help you rule your money, not the other way around.
Give Your Money a Job
People who go to accounting schools learn the value of creating a budget, and budgeting is critical to helping college students manage life on a small income. Your money should work for you. Every dollar that comes in needs to be assigned a place to go, and a budget is a tool that lets you do just that. College budget strategies must involve accounting for every dollar you bring in and every dollar you spend.
Look for Free Events
College campuses host a wealth of free events where food and drinks are served, and college towns tend to attract these types of events, as well. If you can get some free snacks or even a meal, you can lower your food budget for that week. Look for these types of events and take advantage of them when they fit your schedule.
Use Your Student ID
In most communities, and especially in college towns, businesses provide discounts to students. These discounts entice students to come to that particular business. These discounts can add up to significant savings. Look for businesses that advertise student discounts, but also don’t be afraid to ask about them at the businesses you frequent. Many may offer them but not advertise the discounts. And keep your student ID handy so you can take advantage of these discounts.
Avoid Your Student Charge
If your student ID is connected to a student charge account, be careful. It’s easy to think of this as “free money” or use it like a credit card, but this could come back to haunt you. When the bill comes due, you need to have the money to pay it or face heavy interest and penalties. Stick to using your checking account or good old-fashioned cash to make your purchases. If you can’t afford it, you probably don’t need it.
Use Credit Cards Wisely
Though you should not rely on credit to make your daily purchases, you actually do need to work credit cards into your college student budget. Using them and paying them off every month will help you build a solid credit history. Your credit history will be important when you try to lease an apartment or get a car loan later. Keep your spending in check, though. You don’t want to graduate with a large amount of debt simply because you overused your credit cards.
Look for Work Study Opportunities
The cost for college is tremendous. While loans can help, they do have to be repaid eventually. If you want to avoid the debt trap, look for work study opportunities on campus. The Federal work study program allows students with a demonstrated financial need to get part-time jobs, either in their field of study or on the college campus, to help pay for many of the expenses of school. These jobs pay similar to a traditional job with one major difference. When you work through a work study program, you do not have to count that income on your FAFSA. This works well in many college budget strategies, because it brings in more income without changing your ability to qualify for financial aid.
It can be surprisingly hard to find a place to park in a college town, and parking illegally will lead to costly parking tickets. It may seem like an odd addition to your college student budget planning but take time to find a legal parking space near your dorm, apartment and classes. This will ensure that you know where you can park and avoid the unnecessary cost of a ticket.
You know the importance of continuing your education, but don’t let the education come at the expense of your financial security. It’s never too early or too late to identify and execute a plan that will help you manage your money, and not the other way around.
University of the Cumberlands employs faculty members that are actively involved in business and financial communities, who can assist you both with your education and with your budgeting goals. To learn more about how UC can help you get a quality education at an affordable cost, find us online at ucumberlands.edu, or call us at 877-713-8767.