6 Tips For College Financial Success

More than likely you’re coming out of college with some kind of debt. Whether it be student loans for tuition or room and board, very few people get away debt-free from college. With that said, before you embark on your journey of having your nose in a book and writing papers every other day, start your college career on the right path by learning these tips for college financial success.

1. Buy Used

New isn’t better when it comes to textbooks, furniture, or kitchen gadgets for college. Buying used always will give you a better bang for your buck. For example, textbooks. There are plenty of places to find like-new textbooks that cover the material in class. You can ask a peer who took the same class the semester prior, rent from Amazon, or buy used from your school’s bookstore.

The same with furniture and kitchen gadgets. You don’t need anything fancy or top of the line when you’re living in a dorm at college. Most days you just need a cozy place to read, study, and decompress. Plus, you’ll likely be living with roommates and sharing big items like a couch. The best to get these bigger items are secondhand stores, previous tenants, or family members looking to get rid of old furniture.

As long as it functions, save money and buy used.

2. Discounts, Discounts, Discounts

As a student, welcome to the world of discounts. Student discounts range from software, phone plans, restaurants and fast food, bookstores, rental cars, gym memberships, and more. Take advantage whenever and wherever you can!

To be eligible for a student discount depends on the store and location, but most of the time only a student ID is required. Start saving money today!

3. Budget & Keep Track

College is already difficult. Don’t make it more difficult by getting lazy with your finances. True fiscal responsibility comes from creating a budget and sticking to it. It’s imperative to get in the habit of having a budget and keeping track of your monthly expenses now, so you can be financially fit and exercise healthy money habits after college.

4. Get a Job

Yes, college is hard. Getting a job makes the college part harder, but easier on your wallet. No matter how many resources you utilize, college is going to cost money, so working a part time job will help stay ahead of those costs and relieve yourself of financial stress.

Yet, choose a job that works with your academic schedule. A campus job is ideal since you don’t have to leave the college grounds, the hours are flexible, and understand they need to work around your classes. Depending on the campus job, you may even be able to study while on your shift. But these types of jobs are limited. The other option is a part time job near campus. These aren’t as flexible and understanding, but usually pay better! At the end of the day, you’re attending college to learn and earn a degree, so make sure that comes first.

5. Build Credit

It’s never too early to start building credit. When you start college, consider getting a credit card. But only if you can pay it off! You never want to put too much on your credit card and have to pay interest the following month. The best way to build credit with a credit card is to put gas and grocery purchases on the card and pay it off at the end of the month. This way, you’re displaying responsibility to a future lender and showing that you can manage your money. Building your credit in college puts you in the position to have a good credit score next time you need to buy a new vehicle or buy your first home after college.

6. Refund Wisely

Lastly, for those of you who receive refunds from your institution, use them wisely! Refunds come in all shapes and sizes and should never be squandered. When you get the refund, don’t consider it extra spending money. Instead, put the money towards needs. If your refund is smaller, putting it towards groceries is a good use. Or, if your refund is larger, it can be used to put a down payment on a reliable vehicle or get a head start on student loans!

The most important reminder is to have an account before you start, so check out your local credit union. Oftentimes, credit unions offer special accounts that are tailored to the needs of a college student, like free ATM withdrawals (if attending school away from home) and require a minimum in your account (to keep reckless spending in check). The other perk is scholarships! So, if you’re a credit union member, check to see if there are any scholarships available! The application pool is smaller, furthering your chance to receive one. Every bit helps pay for school.

You can’t go wrong by following one or all of these financial tips. Each one will set you up on a stable fiscal foundation once you graduate and move on to the next chapter of your life.