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The college season is fast upon us and college students probably only have one focus – getting good grades. While getting good grades is a number one concern for many, you can’t forget that you have to live life on the side. Whether you’re living on campus or at home, there are probably bills that have to be paid. Whether it’s future student loan bills, your phone bill or something extreme such as rent, it’s important that you manage the money that you have coming in. To help you budget your money the right way, here are eight goals every college student should have:
#1 Create a worksheet
Every month is probably going to look the same when it comes to expenses. Be sure to create a simple Excel worksheet or even write down your budget on paper. Writing down your expenses will give you an inside look at how you’re spending your money month to month. Include things such as your telephone, utilities, rent, insurance, gas, entertainment, etc. Keep this worksheet posted in a place you won’t forget.
#2 Cut the crap Take a close look at that worksheet and see what you can get rid of. Remember, you’re a college student and the luxuries can wait. While it’s tempting to buy that $2,000 laptop or fancy iPad, this can all wait when you land yourself a nice professional job. Again, remember that you’re going to potentially have thousands of dollars worth of student loans to pay in the future. It’s probably best to lower your bills as much as possible so that you can put most of your money toward your tuition. So that $150 cell phone bill and $50 Xbox Live account really isn’t necessary right now.
#3 Focus on tuition
Tuition should always be your number one priority. Yes, while you can’t pay all of your tuition in one semester, there are many colleges that can help you with payment plans and even assist you if you work on campus. Try to figure out ways to cut your tuition as much as possible, and try really hard not to touch your student loans. Graduating college without any sort of debt is a very great feeling, and it can be done if you budget properly.
#4 Start saving money
Saving money isn’t that hard with the Internet packed filled with thousands of resources. Whether you use coupons at your local restaurants or the grocery store, every single dollar you save is going to count. This is a great habit to get into early because you can use this same strategy until the day you die. Always try to buy things on sale, consider buying things used and just become frugal. Don’t forget that you can save hundreds just by buying books used! There are hundreds of ways out there to save money so take advantage!
#5 Attempt to save
Yes, you may not have a lot of money each month but saving just $50 a month can add up so fast if you invest it right. For instance, did you know that if you saved $50 for 45 years collecting 8% annually, you would have more than $250,000 sitting in your account? Think if you amped this number up to $100? $500? $1,000? It can be hard to save a lot of money during college and most understand that, but if you take the imitative just to learn the ropes of investing and attempt to save just a few dollars, you will be pleasantly surprised at how fast it can add up.
#6 Start making some side money
While classes are going to take up a lot of your time, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work. Even if you can only work 10 hours a week, try to do it. Chances are if you’re near a large college campus, there’s going to be retail, fast food and many other related jobs. In fact, you can also check with your college to see if they have any jobs available right on campus. This work experience will help with your resume, and it will also help you build great work ethics.
#7 Keep the credit low
While student loans may be necessary, a credit card isn’t! Unless it’s deemed a medical or rent emergency, try to keep that credit card in your pocket. Get in the habit of using cash or paying your card off in full. Credit cards aren’t necessarily evil but if you don’t have the right discipline, it can spiral out of control pretty quick. Do your best to put limits on your credit spending.
#8 Know your hidden costs
When you’re working on your budget, you can’t forget about your hidden costs that are going to pop up each month. These hidden costs are going to include groceries, your car essentials, dorm room supplies, laundry, eating out and entertainment. If you have everything together in college, you will quickly find that it’s not that hard to keep your finances straight. Just remember that it’s best to keep your education first and focus on money second. Once you get your degree, this can then be your chance to earn the big bucks and actually enjoy life.
This was a post written by Hannah M. She is the co-founder of howmuchisit.org, a website that researches the price on everything ranging from college to home.