How to Manage Money (for College Students)

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College students often struggle financially during their academic careers. Because attending college as a full-time student is similar to having a full-time job, with homework and studying for tests on top of attending classes, many students find that they do not have enough time to hold a job while they attend school. Even those students who do work during college must often use the money to pay their tuition and living expenses. Learning how to manage your money can reduce stress during your college years.

  • Create a strict budget and commit to sticking with it. You may be tempted to spend money that you don't have on junk food, going out with friends and on new outfits that you don't need. Planning a budget for vital expenses such as textbooks, food and living expenses will give you a realistic idea of how much money you can afford to spend on the extra things you might want to do with your friends.

  • Prioritize your finances by identifying the areas in which you need to spend money. For example, you will have to purchase textbooks. If buying new textbooks is important to you make that your priority. However, if you can live with used or rented textbooks, you can shift your priorities to include something that is more important to you than brand new books.

  • Get creative when planning activities with your friends. Many colleges offer free activities for students to stay entertained. Join a club or organization and spend your free time participating in activities with the group. Go for a walk or run around campus instead of joining a fitness center. Invite your friends over and play board games you already own or watch movies airing on television instead of going out to the bars or the movie theatre.

  • Sign up for a credit card with a low credit limit between $500 and $1,000. Use the credit card for expenses such as food and other small necessary purchases. It is important to make sure that you pay the balance off in full each month, which will help you build your credit score and make finding employment after college easier.

Tips & Warnings

  • Determine your eligibility for financial aid. Fill out the Free Application For Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA, to determine whether or not you are eligible for financial assistance. Apply for scholarships and grants that you are eligible for.

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