School is an exciting time in a young person’s life or anyone for that matter. It represents a bold new chapter of pursuing higher education, finding your passion, meeting new friends, and working toward your new future. The only problem is that school can be quite expensive, both inside and outside the classroom, so you have to start developing a good financial sense fast to keep from frivolous spending and money woes. While this is a big hurdle for many, it can be overcome.
Being a more financially stable student isn’t a mythical, unattainable goal. It takes a lot of time, patience, and effort, but if you’re really serious about being smarter with your money, then you always have options. Looking at some of these tips, you can find the right motivation and advice that will allow you to take back your sanity and reclaim your bank account.
Create A Reasonable Budget
The first and most important part of being financially responsible is setting a budget. Creating your budget isn’t just about limiting your spending. It’s also about spending it in the right places, as well as being reasonable. You can’t live your life being 100% frugal, or you won’t have fun, but you need to know when to save your money. The easiest way to start creating a student budget is to start tracking your spending, bank or credit card, and cash and tally up receipts. Track these expenses, then set daily or weekly limits on spending vs. income, as well as necessities like tuition, books, and groceries.
Limit Your Credit Spending
On that note of credit card spending, you need to limit your use of that almighty Visa or Mastercard. It might seem like the easiest way to buy things because credit doesn’t need to be paid until your next billing cycle, but this is the trap people fall into with credit cards. If you’re going to use your credit card, like for bills or big expenses, be ready to pay them off right away. Otherwise, stash it away.
Spend More Weekends At Home
The life of a student means finding time to socialize on weekends and discuss your classes or assignments over a few drinks. Socializing and having some casual drinks is all well and good, but you should limit how many times a month you go out on weekends. Try to stay in more and do some assignments to get caught up, instead of spending money at the bar or on alcohol for a party, and have a relaxed weekend to recuperate for the next week of studying and work.
Cook Your Own Meals
Just like going out to the bar, the desire to buy some tasty takeout is at an all-time high as a student. It’s convenient, it tastes good, and it saves you effort, but it’s also killing your bank account. Start cooking your own meals more, and you’ll see how cheap it actually is to eat. Find deals on grocery store items, and you can make similar dishes to the ones you order out for way less. Not to mention, it’s a lot healthier.
Start Investing Early
If only schools started teaching the power of investing in earlier education so kids and parents would understand how important it is, but alas, it’s never too late to start. Investing in your university or college years might sound late, but some people don’t start doing it until they are working full-time careers. Start by building a retirement savings fund, mutual funds, and purchasing ETF and other safe, but valuable stocks, and you can help add compound interest over time to increase your nest egg for years down the line after you retire. That money you spent not going out on the weekend can be thrown into these accounts, and you’ll thank yourself when you’re older.
Buy Books Secondhand
There’s a very good reason why there are plenty of jokes about college textbooks being highway robbery – because it is. Buying these books new will get you a pristine copy, but you need to consider how much you can realistically afford. Some of them can be upwards of a couple of hundred dollars per copy, which is hard to manage on a student budget. Buy your books secondhand, share them with friends or classmates, and find deals on electronic copies to save you and your budget. Once you’re done, sell them on a school marketplace or social media to recoup a few of your expenses and save the next student that precious money.
Take As Many Handouts As You Can
Being a little bit frugal is nothing to be ashamed about and should be encouraged more. When people think of saving money, they imagine stashing away their hard-earned bucks into their savings account, but they forget that taking free handouts whenever possible is also a good money-saving effort. Taking free food at campus events, free supplies like pens and paper or journals, and just about any free offer you can find is encouraged because if it helps you save money, it’s a great idea.
Do More Free Activities
In case you haven’t noticed yet, there’s a recurring theme that students should be cheap and find free things wherever they can. Besides books, avoiding the bar at times, and handouts, what other kinds of free things should students look for? Free activities, of course. If you plan to stay home for the weekend, read a book, write something for fun, go for a hike, see a free event, or just hang out with friends and play board games. A good time doesn’t mean having to spend money, so find free activities to do wherever and whenever you can.
As a student, saving money can be hard. With all the books, supplies, going out with friends, tuition costs, and loan repayments, it might feel like an uphill battle. Fortunately, you can get started on being a more financially stable student today. Using the tips provided above, you can see just how easy you can start being more responsible with money and how much it can change your life.
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