Unless you’re lucky enough to have a trust fund, money can get tight in college. Not only do you need to cough up thousands in tuition and living expenses, but also money for books and school supplies. Even with a full-time job, it would be almost impossible for the average college student to pay for both education costs and living expenses without some assistance.
Due to the high cost of college and difficulty finding enough money to meet expenses, many individuals make poor financial decisions during college. These financial mistakes can haunt a person for years, even decades. Therefore, it’s crucial to be financially savvy while earning your degree. A list of important financial do’s and don’ts for college students:
Do find a job that works with your schedule.
A job may not pay for every expense, but it can cover most of your living expenses if you’re careful. It may be difficult to find a job that allows you to also focus on school, so consider one of these great small business options for college students.
Do get a roommate.
If you don’t already have a roommate, get one. You’ll cut your living expenses,including rent and utilities, in half with a roommate. Just be sure to find someone reliable, preferably someone you know or someone that can produce good references.
Do track your spending.
You can’t budget carefully if you don’t know where your money is going. Carefully monitor your spending habits over the course of a month or two in order to see where spending needs to be cut. Then, set a up a budget and stick to it.
Do take advantage of student discounts.
Restaurants, theaters, and other venues in college towns often have student discounts.Entertainment and socializing can get expensive, so be sure to carry your student identification and take advantage of every discount offer.
Don’t rely on credit cards or loans for living expenses.
One of the most common mistakes made by college students is using loans and credit cards for living and other non-educational expenses. Credit card companies love to target college students and student loans are given without consideration of a student’s expected income upon graduation. As a student, it’s your responsibility to manage your credit wisely and avoid taking out too many loans.
Don’t pay full price for textbooks.
It’s no secret that college textbooks are overpriced, yet many students still pay full price because they don’t want to look for better options. Compare prices online before turning to your campus bookstore. And read our tips for saving on textbooks.
Don’t overlook small grants and scholarships.
Even if you didn’t land a large scholarship, you can still get considerable help towards your tuition and education expenses via smaller scholarships. Look for scholarships specific to your major or career interests. Find scholarships in your college handbook, at your career center, and by searching online. Visit our online resources page for websites dedicated to scholarships and other financial aid.
Don’t give in to peer pressure to spend.
For many college students, a social life means spending tons of money. But it’s possible to have fun with friends without spending a lot of money. Have friends over to watch a movie instead of going out, and as mentioned above, take advantage of discounts when you do go out. Be honest with friends about your budget and spending limits, and if they can’t understand find friends that do.
For more information on funding your education, read Paying for College Without Going Broke, 2014 Edition (College Admissions Guides)