College students are notorious for living on tight budgets. If you play your financial cards right, however, you can graduate without mountains of debt that you’ll be stuck paying off for at least the next decade. To help you make it through the “hungry years,” here are some finance tips specifically for college students. With a little planning, you can come out of college ready to conquer the world.
1. Use Credit With Caution
When your budget is tight, it can be tempting to swipe the old credit card in order to fill needs — and wants. But be careful…using a credit card can quickly turn into a slippery slope, and you’ll wind up paying a lot more later on. Credit card companies may make those cards seem attractive with low introductory rates, but no matter how good it looks, be careful.
Yeah, it seems like kind of a downer, but don’t ignore your budget. Set one and stick to it.
3. Don’t Ignore Savings
It may seem impossible to live on what you make, let alone save money. But make saving a priority. If you save $30K between the time you’re 20 and the time you’re 30 and put it in an IRA at 7% interest, you’ll have over $440,000 by the time you’re 65.
4. Save on Textbooks
Aside from tuition, your biggest college expense may be textbooks, costing $1,000 per year or more. Check Amazon, eBay, and online rental sources like Chegg. You can save up to half. If you buy textbooks online, make sure you sign up for Ebates to get cash back. And when shopping for school supplies, always shop around and look online for the best possible deals. You may save by buying supplies like binders and filler paper ahead of time when they go on clearance after the semester begins.
5. Keep Loans to a Minimum
It’s tough to make those tuition payments every semester. But keep in mind that the average college student graduates with $23,000 in debt. That’s a lot! Only get loans for what you absolutely have to…they should really be your last resort.
6. Avoid Needless Fees
How many times a month do you visit the ATM on campus? What’s the fee? Then there are overdraft fees and other financial traps that really add up over time. Avoid any fee you possibly can — you’re paying something for nothing.
7. Stay Organized
Staying organized can help you avoid overspending for things overdue library boos. Also, getting your class schedule nailed down early can help you avoid paying for late registration or summer classes, which can cost more.