How to Be Financially Independent

Akeem Favor is a recent MA graduate who studied International Multimedia Journalism at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. His journalistic interests focus on social issues and culture and his writing has been published both in the United States and the United Kingdom.

For many of you, college will be the first time that you’ll be responsible for managing your personal finances. It’s a scary prospect for some, but ultimately it should be seen as one of the first steps toward independence.
Here are a few general tips to help you get started.
Bank Accounts
If you do a campus visit before moving to college, you definitely want check what ATMS and banks are located on campus and in the surrounding areas. Believe it or not, some institutions have a very small presence in certain areas. This is especially true if you are going to a university overseas or in another state.
When you use ATMS from financial institutions other than your own, you will be charged for each transaction. At first it seems like a small fee that means nothing, but for a college student there are no such things as small fees.
There are other things to keep in mind as well. Most banks are so happy to obtain new account holders that they will give out special offers and interest rates to lure you in. While the location and placement of your bank is important, you also want to pay attention to account fees, interest rates, and customer service.
Budgeting
Budgeting is a useful tool for understanding your financial strengths and weaknesses.
Remember going to the fridge and finding it magically stocked with your favorite foods without going shopping? Remember all the basic necessities like toilet tissue and other toiletries restocking without you spending a dime?
None of that will be happening anymore.
When you decide to create a budget, you have to sit down and list your income and possible expenses for a set time frame. Most people will do this on a monthly basis, but as a college student you’ll want to schedule it out on a weekly basis. This makes it easier for you to keep track of where your money is going.
Perhaps the most important part of budgeting is learning to overestimate your expenses and underestimate your income. This tactic will hopefully leave you with a bit of money left over. In fact, some students will actually include a set amount to save as part of their budget.
Still not convinced that budgeting is useful? In addition to being good for your financial health, creating a personal budget and sticking to it is also good for your emotional health because it gives you a sense of accomplishment. As a student, the occasional boost of self-confidence can and will work wonders on your outlook and performance.
Get a Part-Time Job or Campus Internship
Many parents tell their children to focus solely on their studies during college. The fear is that the combination of both coursework and employment responsibilities will be too much to handle.
For many working during college isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Even if this isn’t the case, you should try looking for part-time employment after the first or second semester.
While giving you valuable experience, the money you make will also strengthen your position as an independent adult. No more asking your parents for money to get you through the next couple of weeks. No more borrowing cash from a friend when you go out for drinks.
Most importantly, when you are making your own money and know how to manage it, no one can tell you how to spend it but you.

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