7 Essential Tips to Improve Your College Finances

Tips to Improve Your College Finances Gradehacker
Picture of Sergio Guevara

Sergio Guevara

Head of Client Success at Gradehacker

Updated February 2, 2022

7 Tips to Improve Your College Finances

If you want to improve your college finances, these are the key tips you need to follow:

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College life implies many things, like adult experiences, a feeling of autonomy, and enthusiasm for the future. But despite that, college life also involves new responsibilities, especially monetary obligations.

You already have the cost of college tuition, and besides that, there are the student loans, the required textbooks, and all the unexpected expenses that can come up.

But as a college student, you deserve to spend your money wisely!

So here at Gradehacker, the non-traditional student #1 resource, we want you to get all the tips you can to improve all aspects of your academic journey.

Since the financial aspect of university life is pretty important, here you have seven tips to help you improve your college finances.

1. Create a Personalized Budget

If you’re not the best at managing money, creating a budget for your expenses is the best money-management strategy you can use when you’re trying to balance your college education.

It helps a ton to know the average cost you plan to spend on food, groceries, personal items, and even handling sudden events like what could be medical expenses if you need to see a doctor. 

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.

Also, if you’re an undergraduate student attending a private college, you often need to carefully manage your personal finances to cover tuition or federal loans if you have any!

Implementing a disciplined and personalized budgeting process today can help individuals like you secure their future finances and ensure stability.

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

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 to avoid the financial burden, you should consider that those small expenses add up quickly to be significant and for your financial future is better to track and measure costs. 

Five dollars a day (that iced cup of coffee or fast-food burger) ends up being $35 a week and then $140 a month. We know you can find a better use of that money, so keep an eye on this.

Taking control of your personal finances by cutting unnecessary daily expenses can lead to significant savings in the long run.

By managing your budget effectively, you can also ensure that you are able to repay any private loans you may have taken out for your college education.

Did you know you can graduate faster?

If you are enrolled in a college program and want to earn your diploma sooner, check out our secrets!

Did you know you can graduate faster?

If you are enrolled in a college program and want to earn your diploma sooner, check out our secrets!

3. Use Budgeting Apps

Budgeting apps are a great way to help you keep track of your finances and make sure that you’re living within your means.

With the help of budgeting apps, you can easily plan out how much money you need for each month, create an emergency fund, manage your investments, and more.

The best budgeting tool allows users to link their accounts so they can track their spending and set goals.

Some of the most popular budgeting apps are:

4. Credit Card Knowledge is a Vital Asset

Credit can be a fantastic tool for a college student if used correctly.

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 a price calculator, personalized credit card offers, and loans.

You can use this tool as a financial planner 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 to avoid numerous fees. They have a very simple application process, and the best thing about it, it’s that it’s free to use!

You can also consider checking with a credit union, as they often offer competitive rates and personalized financial services to help you better manage your money.

And if you ever have to struggle with credit card debt, using a debit card can be a smart alternative as it allows you to spend only the money you actually have, helping you avoid accumulating further debt.

5. Not all Activities Have a High Cost

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.

In the end, you’ll end up saving, having more money, and skipping your visit to the financial aid office because you know your responsibilities and how to balance your income!

6. Know Where to Buy Your Books

Since textbooks occupy a big part of your educational expenses, getting the source materials you need for your degree program for less can make the difference, and we know that having a backup card won’t save all your problems.

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 that they will likely use for only one class.

We know you want to use that money on other things, whether spending or saving. So, the best you can do to create better spending habits is to look for textbook 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 what books are more relevant to you in the long term.

For example, a great platform we recommend is Chegg. It’s a great source for renting and buying cheap books and will save you a considerable amount of money to relieve some college expenses.

They also have other features and tools for your college journey, but you can learn more about them on our Chegg review.

You can also try other cheap alternatives, such as using your college/local library. Similarly, 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!

You can see free textbooks as an aid for college that’s there for you to create better financial habits. So, whether you go to an expensive school or a community college, anyone should have access to these resources and enjoy the benefits. 

7. Little Spending Equals Big Savings

The best savings happen when we choose cheaper alternatives to the products we use every day. For example, making your own coffee or buying a generic brand instead of the name brand.

Think of all the monthly expenses you regularly pay but do not really enjoy to the fullest: gym membership, subscription services, or fast-food meals. In the end, you’ll have the same fun and results for half the money.

Find new ways to reduce your expenses as a financial goal. This will make you enjoy your academic program better without worrying about affordability. 

Graduating Faster Has Never Been Easier!

Book a call with our team and learn how you can earn your college degree faster while focusing on what truly matters: YOUR LIFE!

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Graduating Faster Has Never Been Easier!

Book a call with our team and learn how you can earn your college degree faster while focusing on what truly matters: YOUR LIFE!

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Be Smart About Money While Making College a Great Experience!

Now you are ready to say goodbye to your financial issues, take advantage of these tips, and change your college experience!

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.

Now, if you want to save money by graduating faster, be sure to submit your request for free or get in touch with our team to ask all the doubts you have!

If you´ve found this article helpful and want to continue learning how to improve your academic finances, check out some of our other blog posts:

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Sergio Guevara

Sergio Guevara has been an avid essay writer and researcher for Gradehacker since 2018. He has helped countless non-traditional students with a plethora of subjects like literature, nursing, and history. Now as the head of the Client Success Team he’s constantly involved with SEO-driven content that can make the life of both non-traditional and traditional college students much easier. You can find him on LinkedIn