A college degree comes with a fairly hefty price tag. Of course, we all know that. How many times do you read in the newspapers about teachers, parents and students complaining about rising tuitions? And it isn’t just the cost of classes you have to worry about: student association fees, textbooks, student housing — you name it — all costs a pretty penny. Many students try to get by with working a part-time job, but there are only so many hours you can devote to non-school activities. Not to mention most student jobs are minimum wage. So what’s a struggling scholar to do? Learn to budget! Here are a few top tips that will keep more money in your pocket while you earn your degree.
Keep a record of your spending
Money can slip through your fingers if you’re not careful. The odd movie ticket here or lottery ticket there can add up to a lot of missing cash at the end of the month. You won’t know what your bad habits are until you start tracking them. Start a spreadsheet today and list every penny you spend for a month. Then you will be able to see where you should be cutting back.
If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it
Yes there are ample opportunities to get credit cards these days. It seems almost anyone can get one and there are lots of banks marketing to students just like you. But have you looked at the fees on those products? Credit cards can charge anywhere from 10 to 30 percent! Some even have users fees on top of the interest. Worse still is most students who rack up credit card debt during college can take years to pay it off, all while struggling to pay off student loans and working at entry-level wages. The bottom line: just pay cash. If you need a credit card for emergencies make sure you leave it at home so you won’t fall to temptation.
Save for a rainy day
It may seem impossible to stash money away while you’re at college but this is essential. Emergencies happen and you will always need a reserve of cash to help you out from time to time. If you don’t, you will be forced to take a loan and end up paying interest. But your own money can be earning interest while you have it in savings. Be prepared for the unexpected and you will save big time.
Budgeting can be difficult when you are a student as there is little money to go around. Developing these three habits will help keep your finances safe and sound while you study for your degree and will help you out when you’ve graduated and started a new job. Sound financial habits are a great way to set you on the right path.