College Cash: How to Think About Finances as a First-Time Student

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  • College is the first time for many that money really starts to matter. New students are moving out and are out on their own for the first time, and being in charge of your own education and lifestyle means you need to be prepared financially.

    Whether you are starting out frugal by going to an accelerated Ameritech program or spending big on a private university, the single most important thing to remember about finances is how important savings are. It’s easy to feel invincible your first year away, but life throws unexpected curve balls all the time. Starting to save money now can give you a cushion to make sure you can get past any rough spots you encounter in the coming months and years.

    Starting Small

    You don’t need to put away hundreds of dollars a month to save effectively. Saving can start as simple as avoiding buying that 3$ coffee every morning, or limiting how much you go out to eat. Saving a few dollars here and there will quickly add up, and it is a good habit to get into. Try not to become overwhelmed with the idea that you need to save every penny, but remember that the more you save now, the easier it will be in the future.

    Spend Money on What Matters

    There are unavoidable costs that just about every new college student faces. These costs include textbooks, food, transportation, etc. You can’t cut out spending on these elements entirely, but you can avoid spending money on items you don’t really need. Instead of going out to a fast food restaurant to eat, consider cooking a meal at home in the microwave. Rather than purchase expensive designer clothes, think about buying cheaper clothes and tucking the excess money away in your savings account.

    Treat Yourself Once in a While

    Saving money and practicing frugality can feel hard at times, which is why it is important to treat yourself to the things you want every now and then. Try not to go over the top, but it is okay to splurge on that pair of jeans, or special meal you’ve been craving. These little breaks from saving will help you prevent yourself from burning out in the long run.

    The saving habits you learn while in college will stay with you throughout your life. Practicing saving and frugality will benefit your wallet your first year away, and will likely place you years ahead of your peers in terms of preparedness. Use these tips to get more financially secure and stable.

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