How are your finances?
Are you confident you have them well in hand or do you sometimes worry that you’re not doing enough for your own financial wellbeing?
Either way, now that you’re a college student, you may find that you need to rethink your finances a bit. Fortunately, some very simple personal finance tips can be enough to secure peace of mind where your money is concerned.
5 Personal Finance Tips for Your College Years
You have enough to focus on as a college student. However, if all you do is implement the following five personal finance tips, you can get back to studying and spend far less time worrying about your funds.
1. Create a Budget and Then Stick to It
Without a doubt, one of the most important personal finance tips is that you must create a budget for yourself. Otherwise, it’s far too easy to end up in tight spots with your money.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a herculean challenge.
First, add up the total amount for your essentials. These are things like:
- Rent/Mortgage Payments
- Internet Bill
- Phone Bill
- Car Note
This should also include groceries. Use the average of what you spent over the past six months.
Then subtract that from the amount you make every month and what’s left is what you have to spend on the nonessentials (e.g. entertainment, dining out, etc.).
To be fair, it may be a bit difficult to accurately predict what your spending habits will be like now that you’re a college student.
Still, do your best to stick with your budget for at least a month before you make any changes. Implementing the other personal finance tips on this list may not help immediately. It could be a month or so before you see their results, so changing your budget right away would be a big mistake.
Furthermore, you don’t want to get into the habit of adjusting your budget the moment you think it might be a bit off. Unless you’re about to miss making a payment or you’re out of groceries, stick with it for now.
2. Use Technology to Track Your Spending
Use an app to track your spending and you’ll have an even easier time staying on budget.
These apps will also help better inform your decision about it, too. So if you do start thinking it might be time to adjust yours – maybe you feel like you need more for groceries – you can go over your historic data to get a sense for the new amount.
Most importantly, these apps will help you track your spending day-to-day, so you won’t absent-mindedly end up over budget.
3. Don’t Forget About Your Savings
We didn’t include “savings” in the “essentials” portion of your budget earlier because, although it absolutely belongs there, it also deserves its own explanation.
Far too many college students ignore their savings. That’s something they intend to worry about after they graduate and have a steady paycheck coming in.
They may listen to all kinds of other personal finance tips, but they still hold off on setting money aside for their savings.
This is a huge mistake.
Everyone should work toward having an emergency fund (at least $1,000 or 3 months of expenses if you don’t have any debt) on hand. You don’t want an unexpected financial obligation to completely drain your resources and leave you broke.
Furthermore, you’ll want to retire someday. Thanks to the power of compounding interest, the earlier you begin saving, the easier it will be to build a nest egg that will support your Golden Years.
4. Get Rid of Regular Expenses and Study More
As you go back to track your spending on essential like groceries, keep an eye out for other expenditures. Specifically, look for those that you don’t absolutely need and that you’re not even using anymore.
For example, are you still paying for a gym membership you never use? Get rid of it and workout at home.
Do you spend money on cable every month? Ditch that reoccurring cost (switch to the much more affordable Netflix if you have to) and put that money toward savings.
Also, put the time you were spending on some of these unnecessary expenditures (e.g. a regular happy hour) toward studying, which will provide you with much better future returns.
5. Implement the 30-Day Spending Rule
At this point, you may worry that some of these personal finance tips will mean you have to spend your time in college having no fun at all.
That’s definitely not the case. You should absolutely include room in your budget for fun expenditures, like going out with friends and treating yourself to the occasionally pricey coffee.
You can still splurge on other items, too. Maybe it’s a new item of clothing you don’t really need or the brand new phone you could actually do without.
For expenses like those, use the 30-day spending rule.
In short, this rule allows you to make those kinds of purchases, but first you need to wait 30 days.
For example, if you decide you could really use a new TV, that’s fine. Write that down somewhere. Include the date you first had this inclination, too.
Most of the time, you’ll find that when the 30 days are over, the impulse has completely passed. Even better, you’ll still have the money you would have otherwise spent.
One of the best things about this practice isn’t even the savings. It’s the fact that you become cognizant of how many of your purchasing decisions are made on impulse. This, in turn, will help you avoid other unnecessary purchases as time goes on.
Need More Personal Finance Tips?
At IntelleTec College, we pride ourselves on setting up our students for success.
Among other things, this means helping them with many of their needs outside of the classroom. So if you’d like help paying for your education, we’d be happy to talk to you about financial aid.
Simply contact us today and we’ll send you more information about the program you’re most interested in and how to fund your education.
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