Your college education could possibly be the most expensive investment you ever make. Hopefully, you have a good financial aid package and maybe even some help from your family, but at the end of the day, college students are historically short on cash – especially if you’re going back to school as an adult and juggling bills at the same time.
Do you worry about affording textbooks, groceries, or new clothes? If you want to avoid financial woes and end-of-term panic and just focus on your schoolwork, it helps to practice good spending habits and manage your money wisely.
You’d be surprised how many areas of your school life and your personal life where you can save money with just a little strategic thinking.
Do you know why most people end up buying their textbooks from the campus book store? Because they didn’t plan ahead. You should be checking for your textbook requirements continually after you register for the class, and once you get them, do a little research online and see how cheap you can find them.
If it’s more affordable to rent your book, that’s great, just make sure you return it on time to avoid late fees which can drastically cut into the amount you saved in the first place. Honestly? If you know you need to take a class with an enormous book load, there’s no reason not to save it for a term where you can afford it.
If you’re struggling with finances, you shouldn’t be eating out. Okay, it’s unrealistic to expect you to never eat out with your friends, but keep it to special occasions with other people instead of junk food every day cause you don’t feel like cooking.
When it comes to buying groceries, think about how much you spend in a week, on average, and see if you think it’s reasonable or if there are items you can cut back on.
You don’t have to eat ramen, but you can keep it simple and healthy, And don’t wait till you’re living off of ketchup to go to the store. Try to make buying at least some groceries a priority every week, as it is for most people.
3. Credit Cards
As a general rule, you’re already accumulating debt as a college student, so you want to avoid as much debt in other areas as you can. Having one or two credit cards to build good credit might be a good idea, but you don’t need ten of them, and you don’t need to use them all the time.
Credit cards should be for absolute emergencies, not to buy things you don’t need. The goal is to keep the balance manageable so you still have that safety net. Your credit is important – think about buying a car or a house one day, and then avoid splurging on too many extras when you’re in college.
If you can get through college without a vehicle, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. It might take some effort to get used to walking and public transportation, but not having to pay for gas will make your life a lot easier.
Even if you have a car, keeping track of your driving habits and only using it when you really need it will help you, not only with the cost of fuel but also insurance and maintenance. Most people drive way more than they need to, and cutting back can help the environment, your health, and definitely your wallet.
College is expensive but it’s also important, and the best way to be successful is to take it seriously. Knowing how to budget your money is part of being a responsible adult, and if you can keep your head above water, your future self is going to thank you.
Top 4 Ways to Save Serious Cash in College
Going to college can easily have you paying off student loan debt for the rest of your life. If you want to avoid mounting interest and keep more of your hard-earned money to yourself, here are four ways you can prepare for the cost of college.
1.) Apply for Scholarships, and Start Early!
This can be a lengthy process, but it’s certainly worth it; just start as soon as you’re eligible to apply. There are scholarships for everything. You can literally receive scholarship money for being left-handed.
It might seem like a tedious process, but it’s worth it when you’re given money that you don’t have to pay back. There is an unlimited number of ways to earn scholarships, whether your college hooks you up or you simply do a Google search online.
2.) Complete Your Prerequisites at a Community College
Prerequisites—like basic math, science, and English classes—are almost always the same no matter where you go. You’d be surprised: The prereqs you’re taking at your Ivy League school might be the same as the ones at your community college, only way more expensive.
The only thing that matters is that the credits transfer. If you can obtain the standard credits you need and potentially save yourself thousands of dollars in tuition, check out the community college and transfer once you’ve completed all of your prerequisites.
3.) If Possible, Commute!
Living on campus is a great experience and you certainly learn a lot when you move out of the house. Although it does offer some advantages, you have to pay for it…and you’re going to pay a lot. Dorm life adds thousands of dollars during your college experience.
If you’re using student loans to pay for school, you could spare yourself major debt if you stay at home while getting your education and simply commute. It just might be worth putting up with your annoying parents for a little while longer.
4.) Buy Your Textbooks Used
Textbooks can cost literally hundreds of dollars if you buy them new in stores. Check out the stores’ prices on used books, however, and you’ll find that you could save quite a bit. Want to keep even more cash in your wallet? Go online! There are sites created for the sole purpose of helping students sell/trade their books.
Of course, you want to be safe and make sure that there’s not a giant coffee stain through that entire sociology book that’s mysteriously on sale for $1; but there’s a good chance that you’ll find what you need in great condition—and for a bargain!
Paying for college is not the, “I’ll get the money now and worry about paying it off later,” type of scenario. Monthly payments after your grace period ends can get into the thousands if you’re not careful. There is a way, however, to control your finances—not the other way around. Put in a little extra work now and you’ll be SO relieved later on!
Read also: Defaulted Student Loan Solutions
What to Expect When Furthering Your Education
Lately, there has been a lot of emphasis on education and the current job market. With the layoffs of the past, many have been finding it hard to find employment. As the economy is beginning to strengthen again, companies are beginning to hire. Unfortunately, this has created a job pool of highly qualified and well-educated prospects that may continue to make it hard to find employment.
Before the economic crash, there was an ability to move up in a company and hold a position of power without the need for higher education. Now there are highly educated prospects with experience that you must compete with. This is one of the reasons why continued education is on the lips of many recruiters. If you are trying to compete and are considering furthering your education, there are a few things you can expect.
More Options for Education
In the past, furthering your education required a lot of time, commuting to campus and constant study. The technology of today has made continuing your education more convenient and customizable. From online schools to mobile learning, and even virtual classrooms, earning a higher degree doesn’t require the student to even step foot on campus.
For those who are re-entering the business world, this convenience is allowing more time with their families, less cost, and the accredited education they need. Degrees earned online to hold the same respect as many of the larger universities that are high priced and time-consuming.
More Career Choices
Those who are returning to the workforce are in a position to choose whether to further their current career choice or choose a new path. If you are looking to return to school, you can either get the degree to return to your respective field in a higher position or change your career altogether. This is a choice that offers a lot of benefits. Taking a look in the past and deciding if your original career choice was the right choice for you may open up the possibilities to new experiences and a new life.
Increased Earning Potential
The main benefit of continuing your education is to improve your quality of life. With higher learning comes higher earning. By continuing your education you can expect a higher earning potential. By earning your degree, you become more marketable and obtain the leverage needed to be paid what you are worth.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current average weekly earnings for a High School graduate are $638. An Associate degree increases the average earnings to $768, $1,053 for a Bachelor’s degree, and $1,263 per week for a graduate with a Master’s degree.
More Knowledge, More Value
They say knowledge is power. This is especially true for the company that hires you. With higher education, you can expect more knowledge in your field and added value to your employer. An ideal situation for any employee is eliminating expendability.
If you are a key employee with the knowledge to benefit the company you work for, you position yourself to be invaluable. Simply increasing your worth can eliminate the stress and risk of losing your job and being replaced.
Even with the current job market strengthening, education is more critical now than in the past. Offering a company more knowledge and skills will prove beneficial to you as their employee. You can expect a higher quality of life, more job security and the knowledge needed to increase your value.
5 Tips On Making The Right Financial Choices In College
For many students, college is a time to learn more about the world, prepare for a future career, and make lasting friendships.
It is also a time when individuals need to make financial decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives. Too many students avoid the issue of finances and borrow money as needed until graduation.
It is important to realize that finally peeking into your bank balance or credit score after graduating from college will be a shock unless you take action throughout your college years. Here are five tips for avoiding debt and surviving college with a good credit score.
1. Pay Attention to Your Credit Score
Although there are countless ways to find out your credit score for free, most students never concern themselves with their score until it comes time to buy a new car or take out a mortgage on a home.
This is a very dangerous way to live, as your score can contain errors that need to be addressed as they come up. Make an effort to check your credit score once each year and learn how you can improve it.
2. Compare Banks and Credit Cards
Almost every student will opt to have a credit card at some point during their college years. Having a credit card can be a great way to be financially prepared in case of an emergency and is also a smart way to start building credit.
However, many credit cards target college students and promise great initial interest rates or cash back, but later on, they have high interest rates and can sink you further into debt. Compare any and all bank accounts, loans or credit cards before signing up for one.
3. Stay Aware of Your Student Loans
While some students have financial aid or scholarships to pay for their tuition, a large majority of students will have to take out some kind of student loan to cover the costs.
Although you will most likely not have to pay interest on your loan until you graduate, it is still important to be aware of the debt you are accruing and come up with a reasonable plan to pay it back after graduation.
4. Protect Your Credit Identity
College students are one of the prime demographics for identity theft in the country. People can take your personal information to apply for credit cards, loans or anything else that will later have an effect on your financial stability and your credit history. Don’t share any personal information like bank numbers or social security numbers with anyone in your dorm or class.
If possible, you should keep old bank statements and personal documents in a safe in your dormitory. Although your neighbors and friends might seem great, there is always a risk of identity theft when you live in shared housing.
5. Create a Monthly Budget
One of the biggest reasons that college students go into debt is because they don’t have enough money at the end of each week or month to afford necessities and bills. To avoid this problem, create a budget for your food, rent, tuition, expenses, and entertainment. Stick to your budget to avoid relying on loans or credit cards.
College can be hard enough for students even without financial troubles. By using these five helpful tips, you can avoid going into debt or becoming a victim of identity theft during your college years.
Read also: Students Find Unorthodox School Funding