Thursday, August 29, 2013, AM | 2 Comments
Spend vs. Save:
Not everybody can afford to go to college. If you’re lucky enough to be one of those who have the funds to go and earn a degree, whether it’s through your family’s support or a scholarship of some sort, you should do your best to live within means and keep your debts to a minimum.
Furthermore, the efforts pulling all your resources together shouldn’t only come from those who are financing your education; more importantly, it should come from you.
If you’re an incoming college freshman or you’re a student returning from vacation, here are ten effective tips you can do to handle your finances.
Plan your budget
One of the most effective ways to monitor your spending is by setting a budget and sticking to it. It doesn’t have to be complicated—all you need is an organizer, digital or otherwise, and a considerable amount of patience to record everything down.
You can start on the day you receive your allowance by taking note of how much money you got. Then, compute how much you will need for daily expenses like food, transportation, or if you have a car, gas. Set aside the money you need for these and do not spend it on anything other than what they are reserved for.
Moreover, practice the habit of listing everything you buy. This will help you track if you’re already going budget and will help you eliminate the things you need to cut back on.
Go easy on borrowing money
You’ve probably heard your share of horror stories involving college and neck-deep debts. Avoid telling the same spin by borrowing as little money as possible. Do this by applying to different scholarship grants or by signing up to a program that can sponsor you.
In cases where you really need to file for a student loan, explore the option of one that is subsidized by the state. In this type of loan, it is the government that will shoulder the interest while you’re still studying and normally has a grace period before you actually start paying them back.
Make wise spending decisions
While budgeting, you also need to develop the habit of differentiating between your needs and your wants. This is because aside from everyday expenses, you’ll also have to factor into your budget the necessities that will arise in the future. And while it’s normal to want things adorned with a big price tag, actually owning them may cause a dent on your budget.
For instance, you may need a new pair of trainers but it doesn’t always translate to buying the latest and possibly most expensive model of your favorite brand has in display.
Case in point: finding an item that you like doesn’t mean that you should buy it even if you have the means and not especially if it’s going to cost you your lunch money, it can probably wait until you’ve saved up enough and not skimp on your priority expenses.
Learn how to create homemade stuff
Assuming that you’re already used to budgeting and recording every single purchase you make, it is now to take a second look at your spreadsheet (or organizer) and see if there are still corners you can cut.
For instance, if you enjoy taking warm showers before calling it a day, why not make your own body wash instead of buying a new bottle after another?
Not only homemade body washes are less expensive, you can also use them as tokens or small gifts to your friends. You should also look into recycling or reusing some of your old stuff into new purposes instead of always buying new ones.
Buy used textbooks
Textbooks are updated every now and then so unless your life depends on it, don’t buy new schoolbooks. Instead, look for ones that have been recently used by students who are either graduating or just moving on to a new academic year.
Scour the bulletin boards for related announcements or search for them online. Also, remember to take care of these books so that you too can sell at them at the end of the year.
Earn your own money
One of the good things about being in college is how flexible your schedule can be. With the exception of students who willingly signs up for a full load and extra credits to boot, a regular class schedule can give you free time which you can use to make your own money. You can take up a part-time job that is related to the degree you’re taking up.
However, if you want to give thinking about school a rest while working at the same time, you can also apply as food service crew, delivery guy, or as staff in the nearest car repair shop.
Whatever you do, make sure that you’re able to put away some for savings and emergency expenses. Better yet, open a savings account and deposit a good portion of your earnings (or all of it) as if you’re paying bills.
Take advantage of coupons
People who have a knack for finding nice and useful items in the midst of a bargain are the ones who spare themselves from the need of buying new stuff just because.
See for yourself if you can do the same thing by checking discount coupons found online and in magazines. Websites like Discount Queens prove to be useful when it comes to hunting great deals which you won’t normally find in stores.
Keep credit card expenses to a minimum
You don’t want to see your allowance slipping from your hands to pay off debts you accumulated through your credit card. So before you give in to the urge to buy something using money you don’t have yet, establish a personal rule that your credit card is for emergency use only and not something you should use to regularly pay your expenses with.
Pay for purchases in cash as much as possible and if you must use your credit card, make sure that you pay it back within on or before the due date.
Pay your bills online
When you avail of the convenience of paying your bills while at home, it will save you from spending on fares or gas and the possibility of buying something on an impulse when you’re outside. This also saves you time since you wouldn’t have to fall in line. In addition, you can schedule when your payments will be made ensuring you that you won’t miss a deadline.
Set financial goals
You may still be a student but if you’re able to accrue money, whether it’s from your parents or through your part-time job, you should set your own financial goals. Depending on how much money you’re accumulating every month, set a feasible target amount that you should meet within a similarly ideal time-frame. This way, you’ll be ready for big-ticket expenses should the necessity arise.
Being in college is great—not only do you get to discover a lot of new things, this stage of your life is one of the most ideal period to learn how to make sound financial decisions, especially since you’ll be looking after yourself most of the time.
So take on these tips if you want to maximize your money while in college. If you have any tips you can share with us, let us know by writing your comments below.
Ava Adair-Allen uses her experience in managing e-commerce sites to write about practical tips that will help entrepreneurs who want to achieve financial success online. Ava is a proud mother and supports her family through her blogging and affiliate marketing efforts. You can reach out and connect with Ava through Google+ or Twitter @avaadal.
- Aug 30, 2013: stitched