The time to head off to college has finally arrived, and you’re ready to take on a new chapter in your life. That is, of course, if you can manage your money effectively. To get a handle on your first-year student finances, follow these four suggestions on managing money in college.
- Choose a college you can afford. It’s no secret that college is expensive. But too many students choose a college that is way beyond their means, without any idea how to pay for it. If your budget is tight—and even if it’s not—be realistic about what you can afford and consider all of your options.
- Create a budget. There are several available resources to help you set up a budget, but it will only work if the budget you make is realistic. It’s really no different than going on a diet. If the diet isn’t realistic, you probably won’t adhere to it. So, consider how much money you have, and allocate it wisely. Remember, it can’t all go to pizza and movies; you’ll need to do laundry once in a while, too.
- Live like a college student. There will be plenty of time to live the high life—after you earn the diploma. Right now, while you have little or no income, keep your expenses to a minimum. Don’t borrow more than you need to pay your basic bills; loans should not finance Friday-night fun or spring break trips. If you live beyond your means now, it will catch up with you and limit your financial options after graduation.
- Beware of credit-card debt. Credit cards are tempting to students on limited budgets, but it’s best to treat them cautiously. Open one account, and vow to use it only for emergencies. Pay the balance in full when the bill arrives if at all possible to avoid accumulated interest.