13 Tips for Managing Student Finances

We all know that attending college is rarely cheap. In fact, with all the expected and unexpected expenses (recommended textbooks, class trips, etc.), being a student can feel like a real financial burden at times. However, do not fear – there are several ways that you can keep more money in your pocket while you’re working hard to get your degree. Below is a list of 13 things you can do to better manage your student finances and keep your accounts in check while pursuing your dreams!

1. Always pay for necessary expenses (rent, utilities, meal plan, tuition payments, etc.) first, before putting money towards unnecessary items like shopping sprees or expensive dinners.  

2. Define your financial goals. Create a list of how much money you need each week – and stick to it! – to avoid overspending.

3. Find a checking account that is right for you. Research financial institutions and read the fine print about what services they offer. Sometimes credit unions have better checking account deals for students than traditional banks.

4. Don’t stop looking for financial aid once you enroll in school! You can still earn scholarships and grants for having good grades or for other academic achievements.

5. Avoid living paycheck to paycheck by building an emergency savings account. Your goal should be saving enough to cover six months of living expenses in case you lose a job or fall on rough times.

6. Turn your hobbies into moneymaking opportunities. Are you a really skilled writer? Consider becoming a note-taker for a disabled student. Love helping others? Sign up to be a tutor. There are many ways that you can turn your talents into cash.

7. Make your summers worth it! Use these warmer months when classes aren’t in session to gain work experience and earn extra cash via a summer job or internship.

8. Keep track of your spending. Knowing where your money is going on a weekly basis will really help you make sure that you are being financially sound with your payments.

9. Use your student ID to find discounts around campus and online. When you visit local shops or restaurants, always ask about special deals for students. Even if the savings seem small, they definitely add up over time.

10. Park your car in the cheapest lot on campus to save money. Even if it’s farther away from you, you’ll spend less and get a little exercise from the extra walking. Or consider ditching your car altogether, and sign up for a service like Zipcar.

11. If you must shop off campus for food, sign up for a membership at a bulk grocery store like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJs. By buying in bulk and splitting costs with your roommates for communal items such as toilet paper or shared food, you’ll save tons of money on your living expenses.

12. Don’t bounce checks or overdraft your account. Many banks have hidden fees that could set you back even further when you make one of these financial mistakes.

13. Start repaying your loans as soon as you’re able to. Some people use their loan refund checks to go on costly vacations, but the most financially savvy students put this money towards paying off interest on school loans. This way you’ll have less debt to pay back by the time you finish your degree program. 

What else would you recommend for managing finances as a college student? Tell us in the comments!

photo credit: c_ambler via photopin cc

Tagged: finances student loans