College is an exciting time of life, but if this is your first time away from home, you may find that it is also a bit of a risky time. This might be the first time you have had to juggle your own finances and your own bills, and if you are unprepared, you might run into some troubles that haunt you for years to come.
College students freshly away from the restrictions of their parents and who have new credit cards or student loans are particularly vulnerable to ruinous financial choices. It is important to at least stay smart about your choices even if you are going to splurge from time to time. Here are five tips to keep you in good financial standing when you are in college.
Know What Your Expenses Are
People will tell you to create a budget, but you are not going to be creating a good budget unless you know what you are paying for and when. Sit down, and make a list of everything that you need to spend money on. Start with the important things, like bills and tuition and go through food, transportation costs and other things like that.
Keep A Written Record of Your Spending
It is always a good idea to keep track of what you are spending money on. If you are having issues with keeping money in your pocket, consider writing down every money expenditure you make in a book.
Get a Paper Check
It is becoming increasingly more universal for employers to offer direct deposit now, but there is a certain value in going to the bank with a quickbooks check. For example, when you go to the bank to deposit the check and to get money out, it helps you curtail your spending a little bit. This is a good way to keep track of what you owe. Studies have shown that it is easier for us to spend virtual money without regret or second guessing than cash or other tangible forms of currency.
Create an Entertainment Budget
If you cut all of the fun out of your life, there is far too likely a chance that you will simply break at some point and spend too much money. Instead, set aside a little bit of cash every month to have some fun, whether you want to go out to eat or to catch a movie. There are a wide variety of free tools available online, such as mint.com or budgettracker.com. These can help you set up specific amounts of money for entertainment and other things each month.
One of the biggest expenditures of a college student is food. Dorm food is very pricey, as is food from a restaurant. The very cheapest way to get food is to cook it yourself. If you can do this, you will save a lot of money right away. Getting started with cooking is a little pricey, and there is a learning curve, but cooking your own food is a good idea.
Managing your finances when you are in college is tough, but it is far from impossible. Take a moment to learn more about what your options are going to be when you are thinking about moving forward.