Mastering Your College Student Finances: Tips for Financial Success
Gus Bell, Meg Dickinson, Hannah Hummel, William McDaniel, Abbott Wright | GBC Summer Interns | Customer Education
Navigating your finances during college is a crucial skill that sets the stage for your financial well-being in the future. By implementing smart financial habits, you can make the most of your resources while avoiding unnecessary debt and stress. Learning just a few practical tips can help you manage your college finances more effectively. Whether it's tracking your expenses on Excel or learning how to properly invest your money, there are plenty of ways to be financially successful in college.
Using Excel to Track Your Spending
One of the best and easiest ways to manage your spending is to keep track of where your money is going. Using Excel, students can look at their financial statements and write out where the majority of their spending goes. Track every expense, big or small, and categorize them. After building out your financial spending model, track which ones are necessary and which are obsolete and try to find ways in which you can limit the obsolete expenses. Having a visual of your spending can help you become more aware of how much you are spending and where your money is being spent.
Spending on Necessities
It can be quite easy in college to spend money on unnecessary things, but there are some expenses that you are unable to avoid. Some of these include tuition, rent, and utilities. Expenses such as these should be prioritized. While there may be other expenses that are necessary, there could be ways to buy things at a cheaper price. For example, buying used books from the bookstore and returning them at the end of the year is a genius way to save money. Another money-saving tip is to use the public transportation offered by your school instead of buying a parking pass, using up gas, and putting wear and tear on your car. Utilizing these tips can make spending money on necessities less stressful.
Many companies have student discounts to help incentivize them to use their products, including restaurants around your college campus. Effectively using some of these rewards programs can help you save money in smaller amounts that can quickly add up. Besides rewards programs that places around campus may have, some credit card companies have select programs and cards that will provide cash back on purchases within your desired category. An especially useful one if used properly, some companies like Visa will offer 3% of your money back on restaurant spending which in time will continue to build up. You can use this money and track it in Excel documents to see how it can affect your budgeting in the future.
Even though college classes can be very time-consuming, many college students have plenty of free time. Getting a part-time job is an effective way to save up some money, pay off loans, or simply have extra spending money to do things you enjoy. Working not only benefits you financially, but the life experience of a job in college can help you discover things about yourself, such as what field you have a passion for. Additionally, if you were to get an on-campus job, they typically come with benefits such as very flexible hours, discounts, or special parking privileges.
Investing Your Money
Start investing in your future. As a college student, one of your "jobs" is to set yourself up for success. One of the ways to start doing this is by learning about investing early on to maximize the potential of your money. In addition to your classes, you should educate yourself on investment basics and consider options like low-cost index funds or investment apps with fractional shares. You should begin with small contributions and gradually increase as your financial situation allows.
As a college student, you should begin seeking out different and creative ways to save money. College comes with a ton of expenses, but if you start early trying to learn good financial skills and habits, it will help you have a more secure future. Even smaller habits, such as taking advantage of student discounts and updating an Excel document with your spending can make an enormous difference overall in your financials. It can be difficult to hold yourself accountable, and it may take time to create a good balance that works for your lifestyle, but it will be worth it. Creating good financial habits now will have a long-lasting effect on your financial well-being in the future. Ultimately, college students who make the conscious effort to save money not only better navigate the financial challenges of their present circumstances but also lay a solid foundation for financial stability and success in the many years to come.
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