Today we have a guest post from Valentina Wilson with some tips on personal finance during your college days. Be sure to check her other articles out at: http://www.bestdebtconsolidation.org/ Facebook | Twitter
Congratulations! Finally, you are one step ahead of your bright future! Being a freshman, it’s obvious that you are filled in with excitement for your new role!
But amidst all these things, you should be prepared enough to handle any adverse situation financially. For that, you can try to make a habit of savings from now onwards to lead a frugal life ahead!
So, can you be pennywise for managing your money in a better way? Here are some tips which you can follow!
Plan your budget
It’s very important to sit down with your finances from an early stage of your life! So, create a budget to manage your dollars properly. Creating your budget is quite an easy task! You just need a pen and a piece of paper. Now, note down all your monthly expenses along with your monthly income. Then chalk out a proper budget where you can slash down your overspending. And you shall be able to track down your expenses and make a habit of saving from your paycheck!
However, the main trick lies in sticking to your budget without any fail! But once you are obsessed with your budget, it can be a baby step towards a frugal life!
Choose the right student-friendly bank!
Usually, the banks charge a hefty amount for maintaining an account with them! In fact, some banks charge you a monthly maintenance charge just to keep your account operational. And, you have to pay that charge irrespective of the amount you have in that account!
Go for the banks like Ally, Chime, etc. which usually don’t charge you minimum balance fees! So, you can save yourself from shelling out dollars from your pocket by opting for a student-friendly account!
Automate your savings process
It’s quite obvious that you need to pay for basic needs like mobile bills, internet bills, etc. But are you missing the payment deadlines?
If yes, then opting for automatic payments can be an apt solution for you! Because you will be charged a late fee if you miss the bill payment date! So, if you go for autopay, you don’t need to visit different websites or email invoices at various dates of the month! And you can save the dollars which could have been levied on you as a late fee.
Moreover, you will be able to track your payment history from your bank account statement. But make sure to get e-alerts from your bank whenever your balance is low or a bill is due!
Are you paying yourself?
Life is unpredictable! But at least you can be financially prepared enough to deal with the situation! And thus creating an emergency fund is one of the important money decisions in your adulthood! Having an emergency fund can help you sustain during any exigency! So, keep aside some dollars from your paycheck for your rainy day.
Can you opt for a federal student loan?
There is a prevalent myth that you can’t be eligible for federal student loans if you are financially well-off! Actually, there is no such criterion like that. We are listing the basic eligibility criteria you need to meet for applying Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)!
- You must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen and have a valid Social Security number.
- You must have a high school diploma or GED certificate.
- You must be enrolled or accepted as a student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
So, what are you waiting for? Opt for FAFSA at the earliest to brace yourself from the private student loans and its high-interest rates!
Are you an early bird?
If you have already taken out a student loan, try to pay it off at the earliest! Because the earlier you pay, the more you save on the accumulated interest! But, what if you are overwhelmed with multiple student debts!
In that case, you need to be a strategist to pay off the student loan with ease! You can consolidate multiple student debts into single monthly payments through student loan consolidation (federal or private, depending on the type of loan(s) you had taken out)! In addition, you might get a waiver of the high-interest rates too!
But make sure to make regular monthly payments to get rid of your debts. And it might help you to improve your credit score with time!
Opt for a credit card wisely
The lucrative credit card offers might appeal you to the fullest! But the best credit card for you would be which have:
- Zero annual fee
- Comparatively low APR (Annual Percentage Rate)
- Low credit limit
It’s really very important to stay within your credit limit! So, try to cap your expenses at 10% to 30% of your total credit limit. At the end of the day, it will refrain you from falling into the debt trap!
Most importantly, don’t think about taking out cash advances ever! Because you have to pay 2% to 4% of your cash advance plus finance charges on that amount.
Share your accommodation
What if you share your accommodation with other peeps?
Well, you can do that to minimize your living expenses! In fact, you can save almost half of your expenses if you share your accommodation. But before that, you should keep something in your mind like,
- Share your accommodation with the maximum number of permissible members.
- Look for the websites which can help you to find out accommodation as per your needs and that too free of cost. This can save you from the real estate agents, who can create a hole in your pocket by charging fees.
- Try to go for unfurnished or partly furnished properties as fully furnished properties will cost you more.
- Still, if you want to have some furniture, you can go for certain websites like Freecycle, which offer free basic furniture.
Can you cook?
If you can cook at home, then it’s a great deal! It can help you to save more than buying a meal plan. If you opt for cooking at home, then obviously you will need to buy the groceries. And for that, you can go to the relatively cheaper supermarkets like Walmart, Costco, etc.
So, you can start preparing your own meals during your college days! And you can have food of your own choice and that too at a much lower cost!
Snacking within your budget
You need to be budget-savvy about your food habits and at the same time, you need to be conscious of your health! But, how will you do that?
Let’s have a look!
- If you add up all the bills for your soda, cookies, crackers, processed foods, etc., you might see a huge amount at the end!
If we talk health-wise, it usually provides little or no nutrition to you! So, it’s all time better to opt for healthy foods and slash down your expenses!
- It’s said that seasonal products help you to keep healthy! And if the products are local produce, then it might hurt your wallet much less! The off-season products are generally brought from other places to your city! And eventually, the prices soar high, resulting in burning a hole in your pocket.
- Being tech-savvy can help you in many ways! And online shopping is one of them. You will find many online retailers who offer discounts of up to 50%! Moreover, they will deliver the products right at your doorstep!
Save on your transportation
The best possible way to cut your transportation costs is to stay on campus or near to your college! Still, if you need to travel by bus for attending your college, you can buy monthly passes! These passes will usually cost you from about $45 to $100. And in some cities like Nashville, Cincinnati, etc. you can get student discounts on the monthly passes!
Like if you have a Student Advantage Card of Greyhound, then you can get a 20% discount on the standard fare of the Greyhound buses!
A report by AAA (American Automobile Association) says that avoiding cars can help you save about $6,370 per year. But some situations may arise where you don’t have any other option than taking a car! In that case, hire the car for that day and compare the prices of different car rental services before you go for one!
Take advantage of student discounts
Always look for the discounts which are especially given to the students! You can use your student ID or email address to get discounts at stores, restaurants, museums, movies, etc. For example, Amazon Prime is offering a 6-months trial with free 2-day shipping and prime video streaming. And this is followed by half price membership at Amazon!
Campus Special helps you find the best deals around your campus and RetailMeNot allows you to hold hundreds of coupons in your pocket at a time.
Buy electronic devices at a lower rate!
Buying a new laptop and a tablet is quite a big deal! But you will find many manufacturers who offer student discounts. For example:
- You can get a discount of about 10% on various Microsoft products, ranging from laptops and tablets to software programs!
- Once you are accepted to your college, you can register for “Apple Store for Education”. It can help you save up to $200 on your new Mac!
Buy old books and be tech-savvy!
In this 21st century, technology has eased our work to a great extent! And it has brought a massive change in the education scenario too! Because of that, you don’t have to depend entirely on your textbooks these days!
Now, instead of buying, you can go through the online resources, read books online and there are few websites which allow you to download the same.
Still, you might need a textbook in some cases! For that, you can buy from e-commerce websites like Amazon.com, eBay, etc. at a comparatively lower price! And you can check some websites like Chegg, Barnes and Noble, etc. where you can get many common textbooks on rent!
But what if you want a textbook at a reduced price but not on rent?
In that case, you might approach your seniors to buy old textbooks from them!
Look for part-time jobs!
You can engage yourself with some part-time jobs to pay for your necessary bills! It can be a baby step towards your financial independence too! Here are a few job options which you can opt for!
- Are you having knowledge of graduate school exams like GRE or GMAT?
If yes, you can earn a handsome amount by being an academic tutor! According to Glassdoor, you can make about $30 to $100 per hour if you have specialist knowledge of graduate school exams.
- Isn’t it awesome to work on your own campus?
Well, you might find a job at your own college library! And you can earn about $12.81 per hour being a library assistant! It will not only help you financially. In fact, you will be exposed to a lot of study materials and resources.
- Are you studying English majors?
Then probably it can be apt for you! You can work from your home and you can choose the number of assignments too! Being a freelance writer, you can write on any subject or experience, you wish to. And if you want to pursue a career in writing, this can be a fruitful experience for you!
- You are certainly looking for the jobs which suit your class schedules! Then transcribing might be the best possible job. You just need to hear the audio recordings and write them down! It’s one of the high-paying part-time jobs and that too with flexible working hours! And if you can specialize in medical or legal transcribing, you can earn more!
How safe are you digitally?
In today’s world, you might be unaware of the people, who are stalking you online, having vested interests! Like, you can be tracked when you are using a browser for accessing the internet. For that, you can install certain browser add-ons or plug-ins to keep a look at your personal information!
For example, you can install Collusion for your Firefox or Google Chrome browser to know which tracking companies are following you! And if you want to block these companies, you can download a blocking add-on.
Wait! It doesn’t end here! Apart from the tracking companies, there are many hackers who can track your searched contents!
Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed an add-on called “HTTPS Everywhere” which can help you to encrypt your communications with the websites. As a result, your internet browsing becomes more safe and secured!