The Best Way to Manage Your Money as a Student

Heading out to college is an exciting time for most students. It’s probably your first time away from home long term, first time really looking after yourself, and first time having to truly manage your money.

That last one can be hard, but you don’t have to flounder. Look at options available in the market for best college credit cards for students. Here are our tips for how students can financially thrive, rather than fail.

Set a budget

The single best thing you can do to manage your money is to know how much money you have coming in and how much going out.

That means setting a budget, boring as it might be. But once you know exactly what you’ve got available and how much you spend every single month, you’re left with a figure that you can play with.

Remember to include incidental costs. Things that people commonly leave off are stuff like birthdays because you’re going to want to buy gifts, clothing costs and transport costs.

Plan your groceries and meals

This could be considered part of your budget, but it’s also a lot more in-depth.

Eating is a huge part of life, and no one, not even a student, can survive on ramen alone.

Cooking doesn’t have to be hard, especially if you’re picking up food in bulk for two or three signature meals. Staples like chicken, spices, and rice are inexpensive and can be prepared in an infinite amount of ways.

Meal planning is your best friend. Make a list every week of what you’re going to eat, and stick with it religiously. You could also take note of the extra food expenses you incur every week. The total might shock you.

Share whatever expenses you can

Often, the simplest way to cut your costs, especially big costs like living, transportation, and food, is to share them with other people.

If you’re in student accommodation, this is basically taken into account, but if you’re privately renting it’s worth seeing if there’s anyone who wants to live with you.

Curb impulse buys

You might have easily enough money to live on, but if you’ve got a taste for fashion, tech, or nights out and fine dining, you can easily eat into it.

Often, we aren’t the problem. It’s the people we’re with. It’s easy to restrain yourself if you’re alone, but when your besties are asking you to come and check out this new bar, or a party, it’s much harder to say no.

Save money on supplies

Schooling supplies are hugely expensive, but you can cut this bill right down if you’re smart.

First off, check if there’s a used bookstore near your campus. They might have the course books you need, which could save you a huge amount of money.

For other sundries, rather than buying solo, it might be worth buying in bulk from an office supplier with friends. You can get preferential rates if you buy bulk from a lot of suppliers, and that way you’re set for the year, or longer.

Who knows. You might even be able to set up a side gig, selling stuff to other students.

Earn more money

There are multiple ways for a student to earn a little bit more money, including:

  • A part-time job. If you’ve got a little extra time, a part-time job can be a decent way to bring in a few bucks. Your college probably has a job society or board that can help you find employment, but failing that local stores and restaurants are always a good bet.
  • Student overdrafts: Most banks will offer full time students favorable overdraft terms. This is normally interest-free, but bear in mind it’s not free money. You do have to pay it back. Eventually.
  • Trusts or charities: There are literally hundreds of charities and trusts that offer financial support to students. It’s too in-depth to go into here, but check online and with your student advisor for anything you’re eligible for.

Know your credit options

If you need a loan, you might have various options available to you, like:

  • Credit cards: A credit card is a good choice to have as a backup, just in case you need short term access, but like any credit, you will have to pay this back.
  • Your parents: Don’t rely on this, but your parents might be amendable to help.
  • Short term loans: Short term, or payday loans, are an option if you need short term funds fast. Short term loans generally have shorter repayment terms, but are available to people usually independent of credit rating and income.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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