Cutting the Cord – 6 Tips for College Students Who are Financially Independent
College is a great time to learn about life. Many college students are bankrolled by parents during their time in school, but not everyone has that luxury. If you are financially independent, college can be a tough time to find a way to make ends meet. For those who do not have parental assistance, here are six important things to remember about your finances.
Get to Work
There will be the temptation for college students to enjoy their time in school and use student loans for living expenses. Student loans are a millstone around the neck of many college grads today, which is why getting a job is the best way to support yourself through college. Getting some income to pay for many of the expenses as you go is a great way to avoid student loans. Whether it’s a job on campus or a simple job in retail or food service, you should look for something that will bring money in. If your school is in a “college town” it should be easy to find a job that you can support yourself with through your college years.
Avoid Huge Student Loans
It is true that a small level of student loan debt can be handled. A large amount of debt can become overwhelming for people who are starting the climb up the corporate ladder. Keeping these debts to the minimum will make early adulthood much easier. Look into grants, scholarships, or work study programs that might be available to you, allowing you to finance your education without being smothered in debt by the time you graduate.
Don’t Go Out Every Night
Going out on a nightly basis might be a source of enjoyment, but it can also cost a great deal of money. Staying in or working every evening will be a great way to save money and keep debt to an absolute minimum. There are plenty of things to do for fun in college that don’t cost any money, so just because you aren’t going out doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your friends. Going out every night will cause you to spend money you don’t have. Follow this rule and your 40-year-old self will thank your 20-year-old self.
Watch Your Spending on Food
An occasional steak is perfectly fine as long as student loans or credit cards are not utilized. It is a good idea to eat like a college student now to avoid having to eat like a college student in the future. There is nothing wrong with Ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese outside of a problem with digesting gluten. The most important thing to watch is how much you spend on eating out. If you get in the habit of eating out every night, or even every meal—it will get expensive and really start to pile up on you. While fast food is cheap, you’ll get much more bang for your buck (or grub for your buck) at the grocery store.
Use Cheap Transportation
If you have a car, it can be tempting to drive you and your friends everywhere, however you will soon learn that gas is going to be one of your biggest expenses. Save on gas when you can by walking or biking to class. If you’re thinking about buying a car, you need to be practical if you expect to afford it. There is no need to impress people with an expensive car. A serviceable car that runs and has low maintenance costs will be a better investment than getting a snazzy new car that has a big monthly payment. For those who live in a big city, a car might not even be necessary at all, so consider using public transit in order to save money and get where you need to go.
Set a Budget
It is hard to know how much money is necessary each month when you do not know where the money is going. Drawing up a simple budget each month can be a great way to ensure that money is not getting spent in frivolous ways. Look at how much you are making each month, and then go over the necessities. It can be helpful to make a list of your wants and needs, so that you can prioritize where your money needs to go (and so that you aren’t trying to convince yourself that your wants are needs.) It is also a good idea to have a bit of savings for an emergency fund built into the budget.
Cutting expenses while in college is a necessity for those who are on their own. It may not seem like it, but the financial habits you are developing now will have great impact on your future. If you are financially independent, it means that you are making your own decisions about money, and if you don’t learn how to make the right choices early on, you could get in trouble that will effect your finances for years to come. Everyone needs to learn from experience, but do your best to be financially responsible, because you don’t have your parents to bail you out. Information for this article was provided by the financial professionals of checks-superstore.com who specialize in personalized checks.