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College Money Management Tips

Developing good money management skills while you are in school is one of the most important things you can do to prepare yourself for life after college. You may think that once you’re making a salary, budgeting and the rest will come easily. But it’s this kind of attitude that contributes to the amount of debt recent graduates find themselves in. Figure out how to manage your money – or lack thereof – and you’ll be in much better shape to navigate your financial life not only post-college, but while you’re still on campus, as well. You don’t want to find yourself asking for a bump in your student loans every month you overspend or blow that budget.

Once you realize exactly how much you’re spending on frivolous purchases (or late night pizza runs), it’ll be that much more difficult for you to put down that debit, or worse yet, credit card, to pay for those things. (Don’t cut all the fun out in your budget though. Leave a little room for “play money” when you’re able, or you’ll burn out without any diversions.)

We’ve come up with a list of college money management tips below that could keep you from overspending and better prepare you for budgeting after graduation. Who knows? You may get so good at money management that you’ll be giving tips to those of your peers who may not be as budget savvy as you’ve become.

College Money Management Tips

  • Figure out your weekly budget. Be realistic, because you’ll be more likely to overspend or use those emergency credit cards if you don’t leave room for the occasional slice of pizza or any unexpected college costs.
  • Stick to that budget. If you overspend early on in the month or early on in the semester if you’re relying heavily on student loans, you could find yourself subsisting on Ramen noodles with weeks left to go.
  • Be meticulous about recording debit card transactions, and balance your bank statement as soon as it arrives each month. You don’t want to be stuck with overdraft fees.
  • Don’t spend money you don’t have with credit cards, especially when it comes to covering your tuition and fees.
  • Use those unexpected windfalls wisely. Did you just get a birthday check from your grandmother? Still have some money left over from your high school graduation? Don’t spend it on gossip magazines and treating your friends to dinner. Consider socking it away, or if you’re worried about frivolous spending, put it toward your college tuition and fees.
  • Pay all of your bills on time. Mark down due dates in a calendar if you have to. You don’t want to spend any more money than you have to on bills, so avoid those late fees.
  • Make tough choices. You’re never going to be able to do everything you want to do on a college budget unless you make some irresponsible decisions regarding your student loans. Borrow only what you absolutely need and prioritize.
  • Lucky enough to have some money left over each week, or month? Start building an emergency fund for things like medical expenses or car repairs that you may not have room for in your budget right now.
  • Look for the best deal. With so many places now offering book rentals – even the big retailers are getting in on the trend – there’s no reason you should ever need to overpay on a new book. If you know you’re going to want to keep a book, look for it used. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars.
  • Don’t be too proud to ask for help. If you’re really in a dire financial situation, consider talk to your parents or financial aid administrator. You should never have to use a credit card to cover your tuition and fees, so if you’re really in trouble you may need to reevaluate your student loan totals.

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