College can be an exciting experience full of expanded knowledge and advanced learning, as well as meeting lots of new people from all over, especially if you live on campus. However, many young college students are still learning the importance of balancing a budget and saving money. While some young adults are able to learn at home, or if they’re lucky, in a high school class focused on personal finance, there are many college-aged students who don’t have that privilege.
At Polam FCU, we encourage our members to teach their teenagers about good financial health, budgeting, and saving. And we’re here to provide a few good tips for college students living on campus, and how they can successfully budget and save money.
Start by setting goals.
When you’re on your own — perhaps for the first time as an adult — it’s incredibly easy to overspend, often by nickel-and-diming it with various small purchases. Not having a specific savings goal can make it even easier to swipe your card without thinking twice, and borrowing money can add additional stress with variables like minimum monthly payments and interest rates. A good way to start: divide the amount of money you’ll need for the number of months you’re attending classes, and transfer that amount into your savings account every month.
Consider all your options.
It’s true that some of the most financially successful college students are those who regularly assess their living choices. This could include where you choose to live (off-campus or in a dorm), or choosing a meal plan versus grocery shopping on your own. Consider your budget and income before making these crucial decisions.
Establish and practice good spending / budgetary habits.
If you’re attending college in a new city, it’s easy to let the excitement of a new place with new people get to you, which includes spending money exploring, dining out, getting drinks, or even getting a daily latte at Starbucks. It’s easy to simply brush off that latte as a small purchase, but those small purchases add up. Instead, do your own grocery shopping, and space out any frivolous purchases as needed based on your income and your personal spending limits.
Keep an eye out for discounts.
As a student, you can often use your student ID card for discounts at retailers, movie theaters, events, and much more. Planning your shopping and social activities around places that offer student discounts can go a long way in helping you save money.