5 Habits That Will Help You Manage Your Money in College
Students that head off to college may not feel like adults yet, but unfortunately they're going to have the weight of adult responsibilities thrust upon them whether they're ready or not. This means learning to manage not only time, but also money. If you've never had to attend to your own finances before, you could easily hit roadblocks or get derailed, damaging your credit along the way. Here are a few habits that every college student should adopt when it comes to money management.
1. Create a Budget
If you want to properly manage your money at any time in your life, college included, it's important to start with a working budget that allows you to see money coming in and money going out so you can balance the numbers accordingly. Unfortunately, most college students have no experience with this task. If you're unsure how to get started, simply look for tutorials and templates online, or better yet, take a personal finance class.
2. Limit Credit Transactions
Credit cards can land you in serious financial hot water if you're not careful, especially since many college students new to the credit world tend to equate credit cards to money in the bank rather than viewing them as a system of short-term, high-interest loans. One of the best ways to responsibly manage your money is to forego credit cards altogether and utilize only the funds available in your bank account. Of course, it's nice to have a backup in case of emergencies, so think about applying for a secured credit card through your bank.
The limit on a secured card is usually low ($500, for example) so you can't get into too much trouble. All you have to do is offer collateral in the amount of the limit, which you'll get back after the term expires (generally a year) with interest. In the meantime, you can use the card to build credit with purchases you would make anyway (to buy books or pay for your meal plan). Or simply save it for emergencies.
3. Pay Bills on Time
Accruing late fees is like flushing money down the toilet. If you find that you have a hard time keeping up with your studies and bill payments, set yourself reminders on your digital calendar (complete with alerts) or simply automate payments with online bill pay options through your bank.
4. Act Like You're Five: Learn to Share
Sharing expenses is a great way to save money in college. Renting with roommates, hosting potlucks (if you live off campus), and even sharing textbooks can significantly cut your expenses and leave you with more of every pay check.
5. Use Student Discounts
As a student at Norwich University, or any institution of higher learning for that matter, you have one distinct advantage: You can use your student I.D. to secure all kinds of discounts. It could save you money on public transit, travel (flights, hotels, etc.), movie tickets, admission to museums and theme parks, electronics, clothing, and even Amazon Prime (students get six months free and 50% off thereafter). Ask everywhere you go if student discounts are offered and do some research into which vendors offer deals so that you can shop with them. You could end up saving money on nearly every purchase.