A student’s budget is notoriously tight and that’s why you are most likely reading this post on managing money for college students.
The costs of studying combined with a limited or casual income mean every cent counts.
Whether you are trying to stretch your dollar further, needing to balance the books, or hoping to set some cash aside, these tips can help you save money while studying.
Let’s get straight into these tips to start managing money for college students…
Track Your Income and Expenses
One of the best ways to start managing money for college students is to start tracking all of your income and expenses.
This will give you a clear idea of how much money you are making and where your money is going towards.
Obviously, you want your income to be more than your spending!
Now, you don’t need to make a profit and loss statement akin to an annual shareholder’s report here, just a thorough note of where your money goes, including all spending and yes, even those impulse purchases.
You can just use pen and paper for this or you can use software like Excel if you rather do it on a computer.
There are also apps like Mint that can do all the tracking for you but just note that you will still need to put some manual work in because Mint can’t track your cash income/purchases and sometimes it categorizes things wrong so you will have to manually correct certain things.
Tracking your income and expenses is the best way to start managing your money as a college student!
With this method, you will know exactly what you are spending on to find ways to save more money and you will see if you need to make more money.
Create A College Budget
After you track your income and spending, the next step to take is to create a budget.
A budget will help you to keep your spending under control to ensure that you don’t spend more money than you need to!
For example, let’s say you found that you spend $200 a month on food. You can set a budget to spend only $100 a month on food cutting your spending in half!
Do your best to stay within your budget but there will be times where you set the budget too low and you’ll have to adjust.
The point is to cut your spending and stay within your budget no matter what!
Having a budget is a great way to take control of your money as a college student so I highly recommend starting a budget as soon as possible.
As with tracking your income and spending, you can use pen and paper, Excel, or apps like Mint, You Need A Budget, and EveryDollar.
Manage Your Bills In College
As a college student, you might not have many bills but for the bills you do have you should manage them properly and cut costs where possible.
Accommodation and utilities are the greatest financial outlay for any student, so they should be closely looked at.
For example, it might be cheaper to rent a place near the college than to dorm in the college so definitely look around to find the best and cheapest option.
Another example will be to get rid of your car if everything you need is close by and there is reliable public transportation.
So just look at all the bills you have and see if there are ways to cut costs!
A great app you can use to do this is Rocket Money.
Rocket Money is an awesome app that will track all the bills you pay and provide ways to cut costs on bills so I highly recommend checking it out!
Cut Food Costs
One of the biggest expenses for college students and pretty much everyone is food costs.
I’m not saying you should go on the infamous college student ramen diet but you should definitely look for ways to cut costs.
Seasonal produce, bulk buying, and purchasing items when they are on special can save huge amounts each year.
Whether you find a good local grocer or shop at the chain stores, seasonal fruit and veg are cheaper than packaged foods, so eat well and enjoy the benefits of a healthier diet.
Look for sales and great deals to save money and I also recommend checking out the Ibotta app.
Ibotta is a cashback app that will save you $100’s to $1,000’s on food and they partner with many different grocery stores so I highly recommend checking it out!
Also, you should cook more and do your best to eat out less often to save more money.
Maximize Your Savings
We already went over some methods to cut costs to save money but one of the best tips to start managing money for college students is to maximize your savings.
This means that you should do your best to save as much money as you can!
You should also utilize a high-yield savings account to earn more interest on your money.
I recommend checking out CIT Bank which has a savings account that has an interest rate that pays out 40X more than a Chase savings account.
If you are storing your money in a savings account then you should definitely be earning as much money as you can and you can do so with CIT Bank.
You should definitely find ways to save as much money as you can and store it in a high-yield savings account.
Pay Upfront For Expenses
A great money management tip for college students is to pay for most things upfront.
It’s easy to incur extra costs such as credit card fees and late payment charges, but this is an unnecessary hit to your budget.
If you do need to use credit cards just ensure the debt is paid off monthly to avoid interest charges.
This simple hack can save you money so definitely do it!
Build Credit As A College Student
This might counter the last tip but as a college student, you should definitely build credit for the future.
You might not need a good credit score now but when you get older and need to take a loan, for example, a mortgage, you will need a good credit score.
So, start using credit cards for some purchases and make sure you pay it off in full every month to avoid interest charges.
This will help build your credit for big purchases in the future!
Purchase Used Items
As a college student, your budget is most likely really tight because you are probably not working a full-time job so you are not making much right now.
So… If you need to purchase anything then definitely go for used items!
One of the best examples of this is textbooks, you should never buy a new textbook!
We all know textbooks are super expensive so definitely purchase a used one in good shape or better yet just rent it.
Other examples include furniture for your dorm or apartment, tech equipment, etc…
Just check out places like Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, etc… to find some good deals so you can save money!
Start A Debt Payoff Plan
One of the best tips for managing money for college students is to start a debt payoff plan.
As a college student, you will most likely be graduating with student loans so you need to come up with a plan to pay off these student loans.
You don’t want to miss payments or pay off student loans for the rest of your life!
So, as you save money, come up with a plan to pay off your loans as fast as possible.
Side Hustle To Make Money
There are some situations college students can be in where they can’t save money because they don’t have money to save.
So, if you are in this situation then you should definitely find some side hustles that you can do for some extra cash.
There are many ways to make money in the gig economy so just find some flexible side hustles that you can do to make some extra money!
Find Ways To Have Fun For Free (Or Cheap At Least)
Even though you are busy in college and should be focusing on managing your money properly, you should definitely still have fun and enjoy life!
But… you shouldn’t spend all your money on having fun, I recommend finding free or cheap ways to have fun.
Many colleges have activities that you can do for free so definitely utilize this!
Start An Emergency Fund
As you might know already, life hits you hard sometimes and when it does, it happens quickly and randomly.
There are many sucky situations that can occur in life like a medical emergency, car trouble, etc…
And these things usually cost a good amount of money so you need to plan for these unexpected expenses.
You can do this with an emergency fund which is a separate account from your savings account.
Your emergency fund will provide you with the money to cover those unexpected expenses that can happen at any time!
For your emergency fund, I recommend using CIT Bank which has a high-yield savings account to let your money grow over time.
Fund your emergency fund with whatever you can afford to have that safety net!
Share Expenses With A Roommate
As a college student, you most likely have a roommate whether in an apartment you rent or in the college dorm.
So… if you need to purchase any items that can be shared then ask your roommate to split the cost with you.
For example, if you want to purchase a couch or anything like that can be shared split the cost and save money!
It will save you both money since you are sharing the expenses.
One of the best ways to start managing money for college students is by taking advantage of all the deals and perks offered to college students.
As a college student with a college ID, you can get discounts at certain places and even some stuff for free!
For example, with a college email address, you can get 6 months free of prime and then half-off after the trial!
Other examples include discounts on gym memberships if you don’t want to use the college gym and discounts on Apple products with a college ID.
There are many many more but you get the point. As a college student, there are a lot of perks out there so I highly recommend taking advantage of them to save money!
These are the best tips to start managing money for college students!
As a college student, you are starting your adult life and while personal finance doesn’t seem too important right now, it will be very soon.
The key to a successful financial life is to start a solid foundation to build on and that’s why you should start using these tips to manage your money.
What do you think about these tips for managing money? Are you a college student? Let me know in the comments below!