Living on a tight budget in college seems to be a regular, ongoing joke among college students. For most, it seems pretty easy, with mom and dad paying for things like tuition and rent. However, this shouldn’t stop you from doing your very best to be financially literate and get used to living on a smaller budget. Doing so will benefit you in a multitude of ways. You will be able to learn the basics of financial responsibility and learn to feel a sense of pride in yourself when you know you have your spending habits under control. This will also help you to minimize debt, whether that be in terms of student loans or just a credit card bill. Less financial stress will also keep you focused on the things that matter, like your grades and classes. Unexpected emergencies will arise when you least expect it, and sticking to a tighter budget is the best way to save money and be stress free!
CREATE A BUDGET
Creating a solid budget while you’re still in college is a great way to begin to achieve some financial awareness. It helps you to become aware of your financial situation and see your monthly income, expenses, and how much you should be saving and spending each month. Tracking your expenses and sticking to a budget is a great way to control any over-spending habits you might have while also curbing any long-term debts you might have in your future. Overspending leads to tons of loans and credit card debt, but through budgeting, you can make sure to prevent this. You can keep track of your budget and expenses in any way you prefer. A very easy and free way to do so is to create a table on Excel, plug in your expenses, and let Excel do the rest of the work. You can also find dozens of budget calculators and trackers online for free or cheap and tailor them to your liking.
One perk of being a “broke” college student is that you get to take advantage of dozens of different student discounts! These will help you to save money on a wide range of goods and services, and you can use them to help cut monthly costs! Apple and Microsoft offer student discounts, so if you’re in the market for a new laptop or cell phone, you know where to go. You can also get discounts on Adobe software and products to help out in school assignments. College students also get tons of discounts at clothing retailers. Some examples are J. Crew, H&M, Levi’s, Reebok, Fabletics, Nike, Aeropostale, and more! Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft offer discounts as well, helping out those college kids without their own personal cars (and who don’t feel like waiting for hours at the bus stop). Streaming services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music all offer discounts so you can finally get off your parent’s plans while still saving money. If you log in with your college email on websites like Student Beans or Unidays, you’ll be able to access hundreds of different discounts and access codes.
MINIMIZE CREDIT CARD USAGE
Another very important aspect of sticking to a tight budget and making sure you don’t go overboard is being sure to minimize your credit card usage. Rather than using your credit card everywhere you go, try to get into a habit of using a debit card or cash. Use credit cards for monthly and stable payments, such as a payment for a streaming service or monthly rent. This helps your credit score if you pay on time and ensures you don’t go overboard on your spending on the card. Sit down and take some time to understand the interest rates on your credit card. Higher interest rates can lead to much higher credit card debt in the future, something you definitely want to avoid. Another tip is to limit the amount of credit cards you have to ensure you aren’t racking up copious amounts of debt on each card and simply forgetting about it. Track all of your credit card spendings to make sure you pay every balance off in the right amount of time.
FIND CHEAP OR FREE ACTIVITIES TO DO
College shouldn’t be just about grades and not spending money. You have to capitalize on the time and freedom you have to go out and enjoy life! And yes, you absolutely can still have a great time without spending hundreds of dollars every weekend. Search up your college’s calendar to see what sorts of events they host. Most college campuses host free (or very low-cost) events every week and throughout the weekend such as movie nights, workshops, and cultural events. Another great way to get involved for a lower cost is to join clubs or organizations that pique your interest. Find ways to volunteer and give back to the community. Bake together with your roommates and host a big dinner. Have movie nights with your friends. The opportunities are endless. Never let a tight budget stop you from living your best college life!