Updated February 2, 2022
College life implies many things. Adult experiences, a feeling of autonomy, and enthusiasm for the future. Despite that, college life also involves new responsibilities, especially monetary obligations. You already have the cost of college, but besides that, there are the student loans, the required textbooks, and all the unexpected expenses that can come up.
During your college life, you will learn how to manage money and prioritize the things you need the most. But at the same time, no one wants a dull day-to-day life during these times! You should be able to have fun and spend your money wisely.
Here at Gradehacker, we want you to get all the tips you can, to improve all aspects of your academic journey. With the hope that you can make the most of your money and your college experience, we will show you six tips that will be useful to manage your finances.
1) Create A personalized budget That will make your life easier
We know it can be quite the task, especially if you have bad money habits, but making a budget for your expenses is the best money-management strategy available for any college student. It helps a ton to know the exact amount you plan to spend on food, groceries, personal items, and any everyday expenses related to your college classes.
Your budget includes books, gas, and even grabbing a drink with your friends. Once you have your budget, stick to it. Going over your budget should be avoided at all costs. With this budgeting tip, you’ll keep track of your actual expenses, help you save money, and make the most of it. If you stick to the budget and do not cross your spending limit, we assure you that you will finish the month with a happy bank account.
2) Adapt your lifestyle expenses so you can achieve your goals
You are facing the long and challenging road of a college degree because you want a better life in the future, right? Then you must adjust your lifestyle so you can achieve your goals.
Expensive dinners and a new car. Are these things pushing you closer to your goal? Probably not.
This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself once in a while. But think about it. In the long run, those small expenses add up quickly to be significant.
Five dollars a day (that iced coffee or fast-food burger) end up being $35 a week and then $140 a month. We know that you can find a better use of that money, so keep an eye on this.
3) Not all activities need massive dollar bills
You can limit your expenses by alternating some activities that otherwise would be costly. For example, you can bike to college or work. Instead of an expensive dinner, you can have a DIY picnic with your friend at a local park. Or you can throw a house party with the collaboration of all your friends.
Find the alternative that suits you best. This is important because you can differentiate between what you WANT and what you NEED. If you spend less than what you earn, you’ll be living according to your necessities. And in the end, you’ll end up saving and having more money because you know your responsibilities.
4) Credit Card Knowledge is a Vital Asset
Credit can be a fantastic tool for a college student if used right. However, you must be careful with your balance and expenses so that you don’t end up with a massive amount of credit card debt. Evaluate the pros/cons of every credit card, so you know which one suits you best. And to do so, we have the best budgeting app for the job!
Credit Karma is a website (and mobile app) where you can find personalized credit card offers and loans. You can use this tool to see which credit card is better for your finances and how you’ll manage them in the future. With Credit Karma, you can choose the credit card with the lowest interest rate so you can avoid numerous fees. The best thing about it, it’s that it’s free to use!
5) Know Where to Buy Your Books
Getting the source materials you need for class is one of the most critical aspects of college life. Most of the time, having the textbook or not defines whether you will pass or fail an exam or even a whole class.
Every college student knows that, and as a result, students spend an average of more than $600 per year on textbooks. We know that you want to use that money on other things, whether it’s spending or saving. So the best you can do to reduce your education expenses is to look for alternatives.
Buy used textbooks or rent them on online platforms. Also, you can invest in a Kindle or iPad and buy the ebook version of the text you need, tracking the specific volume or issue with the book’s ISBN. By using this strategy, you could decide on what books are more relevant to you in the long term.
Gradehacker recommends Chegg for renting books since it is easy to use and will save you a considerable amount of money. You can also try other cheap alternatives, like using your college/local library. Likewise, consider sharing used textbooks with your classmates.
However, we know that it can be expensive and pointless to buy books that you may only use once, and for that, we have an article entirely dedicated to listing sites where you can find the textbooks and PDFs you need for free!
6) Little Spending Equals Big Savings
The best savings happen when we choose cheaper alternatives to the products we use every day. Make your own coffee, buy the generic brand instead of the name brand.
Think of all the monthly expenses you regularly pay but do not really enjoy to the fullest: the gym membership, subscription services, or fast-food meals. In the end, you’ll end up having the same fun for half the money.
Be Smart About Money
Remember that money is not the only important thing in life and that there are many ways to have fun or enjoy life without spending money. After you apply these tips to your college costs, you will clearly see the benefits in your finances.
You will have extra money and a happy pocket full of savings at the end of the month. You will begin to experience that wonderful feeling called autonomy. Plus, taking care of your money and knowing how to spend it will open many paths in your life.
Money management will make you an extremely responsible and capable individual. Say goodbye to your financial issues, take advantage of these tips and change your college experience!
If you´ve found this article helpful and want to continue learning about how to improve your academic finances, check out some of our other blog posts: