managing your finances in college

Earn an A+ in Finance!

For many, college marks a time of independence – both personal and financial. In addition to making decisions about how you will spend your time, you’re making decisions about how to spend your money. Waiting until after college to think about how to best manage it can leave you in a real mess. Study up on these money-savvy tips and graduate with an A+ in finance!

  • Establish – and stick to – a budget.
    College is a great place to master basic financial skills because you can purchase – and pay for – items on your own. Creating a monthly budget will help you take control over your money, instead of letting it take control of you. Outline all of your expenses against your income. At the end of the month, if you have extra money, start a savings or investment account. But, if you are spending more than you are bringing in, it’s time to re-evaluate your habits.

  • Use credit wisely.
    It’s important to establish good credit, and one way to do so is through smart use of a credit card in your name. It’s easy to tie yourself in a financial knot that can be costly and time consuming to unravel. So, remember that a credit card is not an invitation to spend up to the limit. To build a solid credit score, make small, recurring monthly purchases and pay the balance in full. Or, consider saving your credit card for emergency use only.

  • Take advantage of student discounts. 
    Student life has its benefits! Many establishments offer student discounts just for showing your campus ID. Before you make any major purchases – like a new laptop for class – ask for a student discount. You may be surprised at how much you can save!

  • Begin to accumulate wealth.
    Putting money aside when you are in college allows you to reap the rewards when you are older. In addition to establishing a sound habit, you can accumulate emergency funds, or money that you may want to invest later on. To help make saving a routine, consider enrolling in an automatic savings plan through your bank. Stray change can add up fast, too, so set aside a jar to collect it.

  • Set spending limits.
    For most students income is limited, especially during the school year. Establish a maximum amount for purchases, like $50 or $100. If an item costs more than the limit you set, carefully assess if you truly need it or research avenues to purchase it in a more cost effective manner. Many stores offer lay-away services that allow you to pay for an item in smaller intervals, without paying interest.

Take Action

It’s important to take charge of your financial future. As you move into the various phases of your life, a financial professional can be a valuable resource who can assist you with reviewing your financial needs and recommending any adjustments to your budget. They can also provide guidance on financial strategies that may be appropriate for whatever stage of life you are in.