5 Must-Read Financial Survival Tips for New Students
How not to run out of money after the first week in college
The time has come to leave the family’s nest and start a new life on your own, away from mom’s great food and dad’s strict rules. You are the sole decider on what to do with your time and money, so it is important to keep a fresh mind and plan your finances properly. You don’t want to end up halfway through September without any money!
No. 1 – Make budgeting your best friend
Compared to older students, only 39% of the freshmen at 4-year colleges are used to monitoring their expenses in a budget. This is a common mistake, and avoiding it could save you a lot in the long term. Being aware of your expenses makes it easier to plan your finances and cut off unnecessary costs. There are many online tools you could use, but also a simple Excel spreadsheet could do. In a first column, you should write down all your expenses. In a second column, monitor the amount of money you’re receiving, from parents, scholarships or side jobs. Keeping all your receipts is very helpful as well, since it makes your purchases easier to track.
No.2 – Receive monthly rates from parents
As a beginner in managing personal finances, the best way for both you and your parents would be to receive monthly rates of money from them. Giving you the amount for a whole semester beforehand is very tricky, since you can easily lose track of where your money goes. In the beginning, it might look like you have more than enough, but you might be surprised after a month or two. This is why it will be better to get a monthly dose of money every month. A great advantage is that, if you ran out of cash after some weeks, it would be easier to negotiate with your parents for some more to get you through the month. The situation would be drastically worse in a scenario where you finished the amount for a whole semester in 1.5 months.
No.3 – Don’t use credit cards
It might seem like a good idea to get a credit card, in order to avoid bothering your parents for every little extra expense. You might think you will not go under the limit, or that you would pay it as soon as the new month starts, but credit debt might start accumulating and you might rapidly lose control over it. Avoid the trap and open a debit card until you’re closer to a steady job and stronger financial management skills.
No.4 – Plan your meals in advance
One might believe budget food is all over the place, and you can survive with cheap frozen pizza for a long time. However, this is not beneficial either for your budget, or for your health. The sooner you learn how to plan your meals, find discounts and compare prices in different stores, the better it would be for you. There are a lot of offers available out there, and with a bit of research you can end up eating decent meals for no money. Try to avoid late night purchases from the vending machine at your university, or weekly pizzas from the place around the corner. You can make a cheaper and healthier version of that back home, and your budget will thank you for it!
No.5 – Take on a side job
Next to all the saving tips, we had to pinpoint the idea of doing more to maximize your income and take on a side job. University life might be challenging, with long nights spent in library and the need to socialize and have some fun in the spare time. When would you have time for a part-time job? Luckily there are many opportunities out there, and one of them is to make money online. In the infographic below we have gathered several ideas to get you started. These ideas represent a pleasant way of combining something you are passionate about with work. This would provide extra money, which you can use to take that date out for a movie or buy a nice present for your mother, which is not bought from her money. If you want to learn more read the ultimate guide to making money online.