As a college student at Central Washington University, I know how hard it is for college students to learn money management skills!
The cost of college has skyrocketed in the past years and sadly it does not seem like that situation will change in the years to come! Therefore it is important to learn how to save and spend money wisely not only in college but in life in general.
Now I know that going to college may seem intimidating, but on the contrary, your college years are one of the best years of your life!
So, do not let your bad money management skill ruin your college experience! I hope you find these essential money management skills for college students helpful and useful.
Time to Save Some Money and Learn How to Budget in College
This is incredibly important when you are managing your money in college. List your monthly income sources, including savings, wages, and allowances, and then write down your estimated expenses for the month.
It isn’t easy to identify college living expenses in advance, but you should try. Take costs such as school supplies, food outside your meal plan, personal care items and laundry into account. Then, try managing your budget and tracking expenses using an online personal finance management tools which will help you easily create and stick to a budget.
1. Manage and Keep Track of Your Personal Finances
Your second step to acquire the skills needed to manage your money as a college student comes when you figure out what you need from what you want and prioritize your needs. Your money will most likely be scarce so prioritize essentials like food or laundry from wants such as going out for dinner.
As a freshman, it may take you months to acquire this skill, and it might be hard, but trust me you will be saving lots of money once you learn to manage your money as a college student.
2. Set Up and Manage Your Checking Account
Set up a checking account. Banks usually help college students by offering free checking and saving accounts, which allows students to avoid fees on withdrawals or fund transfers.
Look around to find a bank with convenient ATMs near campus to eliminate out-of-network charges.
Keep an eye on the account balance so you avoid over spending! This will greatly strengthen your college money management skills!
3. Don’t Abuse Your Credit Cards
Use, don’t abuse, credit cards! I know it seems easy to pay with a credit card, but in the end, it will come back and bite you in the behind if you do not use it wisely. So if you want to correctly manage your money as a college student know when to and when not to use a credit card.
In 2012, 70 percent of undergraduate students had at least one credit card, according to the International Journal of Business and Social Science. College is a great time to start building credit (which is crucial for leasing an apartment, purchasing a vehicle and even landing a job post-graduation), but it’s easy for many to amass a large amount of debt while in school.
It is important to understand the difference between credit building and over spending to the point you can’t pay back! If you don’t know or have more questions, visit a business professor during office hours and ask!
4. Be Smart About Taking Out Student Loans & Requesting Financial Aid
Do your homework on loans and financial aid, yes I know ugh…more homework, but life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
College graduates tend to have a difficult time balancing ever-growing student loan payments against declining wages.
To be a good college student that knows how to manage their money know what the exact size of your student loan debt will be upon graduation, and come up with a plan for how you will pay it back.
Even if it involves moving back home for a bit (to preserve your sanity, give yourself a specific timeline for when you plan on moving out), it will be worth it in the end.
5. Shop for Textbooks the Right Way
Shop smart for textbooks. Textbooks are one of the biggest college expense! A brand new edition of a biology book can cost upward of $300. Don’t even get me started on the price of Business textbooks! The most expensive textbook I have bought cost me $450! But eventually, you learn to be a better college student that is better at managing their money.
Bypassing the campus bookstore at the start of each semester is an easy way for college students to save an abundant amount of money. Invest in a Kindle or iPad and download your books – they are less expensive in e-book format. Or look for books in used bookstores or online. Even with shipping costs, the price can turn out to be significantly cheaper. Amazon Prime for students is a great place to look for cheaper books!
Final Thoughts on Mastering Money Management Skills for College Students
I hope you found these tips helpful! Sadly life does not give us a money management manual, but now you are better prepared and ready to manage your money as a college student.
Now that you have the skills to manage your money in college you should take a look at my other article where I discuss different ways to stay focused when you study in college!