Being a post-secondary school student usually means living on your own (possibly for the first time), paying for yourself and DEBT. It’s pretty terrifying if you ask me, but this is us learning how to survive in the adult world. Thankfully, with the knowledge of proper, safe and easy money habits the process of growing up will go much more smoothly.
So first things first, check yo’self before you wreck yo’self (…or your wallet).
1. Budget for the Necessities
A responsible place to start is with a plan and that means budgeting. Begin with writing down your monthly expenses, such as groceries, bill payments or your textbook/program costs. With your expenses laid out it will be easier to understand the amount of money you require in order to pay for your necessities, as well as the amount of money that is left over for you to use at your discretion. With a budget at hand, it helps you determine how many hours you’ll have to work a week, how much you need to save and how much money you can splurge on coffee this month.
2. Set Financial Goals
Whether you’re saving for a new apartment, next year’s textbooks, a new car or a spring break trip, setting goals is a smart way to stay on track. Once you come to terms with your budget, creating goals based on your extra money will be easier. The best way to start a goal is to determine the time frame you have for saving money and then break it down according to how much you have to save per week.
3. Be Smart with Your Credit Cards
Credit cards are smart to have at this point of our lives, because they are great to build credit. But sometimes you can get carried away, and it’s easy when you’re a broke student. The smartest way to build credit without maxing out your card is to ONLY, and I mean ONLY, use your credit when you have the money to pay it off immediately. By creating and keeping this habit, you will never run into the issue of spending money you don’t have, and it will keep you from buying random things you most likely don’t need. Another tip is to make little purchases (necessity purchasing such as groceries) on your credit card each month and then pay it off right away. By doing this you will be looking good in the bank’s eyes by building credit and spending the money you’d already be using.
4. Save as Much as You Can!
If your parents are telling you to put your money away, listen to them. They know best! I’m talking about investments and student saving accounts so that when school is done you already have money accumulated for a house, car or paying off that daunting student debt we all know too much about. It’s just smart, and it’s better to do it sooner than later. Plus, if you have no self-control, your financial advisor can keep you on track. I know plenty of students who stash away their loose change and watch it add up. While it might seem like a small thing to do, money is money and putting away loose change is better than not putting anything away at all.
5. Look for Scholarships and Grants
At this point, it’s all about being smart, frugal and knowing the tricks. While we all know about scholarships and grants, we don’t always realize just how many are out there. You’d be surprised how many scholarships you qualify for and you could be making some moolah for schooling.
6. Buy Used When Possible
While buying new textbooks at the school bookstore may be nice, used ones are nicer on our wallet. Stop buying new textbooks and starting getting familiar with used ones. Older students are always selling them, plus they’re always cheaper. If you’re lucky, you can get one with notes and highlighting already done for you. Or if you want to be extra frugal head to your school library and rent your textbooks.
7. Make Use of Your School Surroundings
Sometimes we don’t even realize all the cheap and free stuff that is right before our eyes. By being a student, there are so many opportunities at school that you probably don’t even know about. Start investigating at your school and figure out all that it has to offer and take advantage! Workout at the gym and its facilities, use the student food banks, actually use the library and use those free samples because you’re a student and you pay too much tuition to not use up the resources!