By Lexie Pitzen | Photo: Sharon Mccutcheon
Everyone has their own money-saving advice for college students: make your coffee at home., rent your textbooks, buy off-brand grocery items. But, some advice tends to focus on small savings tips, and rarely addresses how to set up a financial situation for stability post-graduation. Consider these tips and habits to decrease financial stress now and after college.
Budgeting is fun — Making a budget takes time, but it’s the first important step to managing your money. Think of everything you have to pay for in college—tuition, textbooks, groceries, rent, and more. Knowing how much you can spend in each category gives you control over your finances. And, you can make budgeting fun by doing it how you want to; try a budgeting app, an Excel spreadsheet, or a spread in your planner.
Get a college credit card — When you graduate college, you will need a good credit score for your expenses like apartment rent or a car. To help students build credit, many banks offer college credit cards with no extra fees. If you take advantage of this, you can start building credit without spending any extra money. I put all of my groceries, books, and fees on my credit card, and my credit limit and credit score increased quickly.
Sometimes, you’re better off eating out — Some days are so packed with work, classes, and events that your schedule includes no time for cooking. On the busy, overwhelming days, you’re better off buying food if it saves your sanity.
You might not need a job, but be sure to find an income stream — Some college students choose not to work, often opting for loans or to dedicate their time entirely to academics. Still, to stay on top of groceries and unexpected expenses, consider finding an income stream. Paid internships and tutoring can have low time commitments, and another way to make extra money is finding a side hustle. And if you start your side hustle now, you can keep reaping the benefits after college.
Thrift — Thrifting is a quintessential money-saving habit. You can save hundreds of dollars by buying dorm or apartment furniture and accessories secondhand. Also, thrift your college apparel; the bookstore and area boutiques inflate prices dramatically.