The Best Ways to Manage Money as a College Student

Most college students are financially limited and adult life is starting to become their new norm. You just graduated high school, not yet working on your dream career, and still learning who you want to become. 

As you build your adult life, good finances will be a common denominator in how far you go. Use your college years to learn how to manage your money. Follow money management habits and you’ll be sure to endure better outcomes post-graduation. 

1. Cutting down on school supply costs 

College is a multi-year commitment which means school supplies should be a part of your budget for roughly 2 to 4 years or more. Therefore, there is no real need to overspend in this area. A few good frugal choices could save you hundreds of dollars if not thousands.

Renting used textbooks

Never buy a brand new college textbook unless you have exhausted all other options. If renting a used textbook is not an option in the college bookstore, then consider renting from Amazon. The cheapest option out there would be renting the eBook version of any college textbook.

Avoid overpriced supplies

While fancy planners and writing utensils may spark your interest, don’t fall for the hype of buying them. A $15 notebook with a trendy design on the cover does not exceed much value or functionality than a $3 notebook.

The latest tech isn’t an immediate need

It can be tempting to want the latest laptop, tablet, and more when completing work on them. Most likely the existing tech you have is sufficient enough to complete your studies. Be mindful that features to help with productivity and work completion are what matters.

2. Keeping food costs lower

Creating the right budget for food can provide better results of your college finances. The best advice is to tailor your food budget to your exact needs.

Get the right meal plan at your college

Meal plans are purchased passes to get food in a college cafeteria. They vary based on frequency and method of redemption such as points or swipes. However, plans should be bought based on how much food you’ll need for the cafeteria versus what you cook yourself or order elsewhere.

A commuting college student may need a one meal per day plan versus the full-time on-campus student needing two to three meals per day.

Avoid going out to eat so much

As convenient as it seems, ordering food will significantly increase monthly spending especially if done frequently. Visit a grocery store and pre-plan what you’ll be eating at least a week at a time. Cooking more, especially if not living in a small college dorm, could save you thousands on ordered food and snacks.

3. Having financially reasonable housing

Living arrangements are likely the biggest expense you have other than college tuition. Therefore, frugal options while in college can promote better money management.

Staying at home during college

While many students love the independence of not being under your parents’ roof, it can endure some costs you should avoid for now. If you attend a college within an hour from home, there is no need to save thousands on dorm living. Have an understanding with your parents or guardians on staying at home during college and your plan post-graduation.

On-campus housing

At most colleges, there are always people attending that particular school who are from another state or another area of the state. If you fall in that category, it may be cheaper to stay in a dorm on-campus versus renting off-campus. Apartment costs are significantly rising so there is more potential to save thousands of dollars.

Having roommates 

Maybe staying off-campus is a preference of yours while attending college. Renting an apartment or house with roommates would make this easier to achieve financially. Depending on the cost of the place and your number of roommates, it could be the most frugal option if not staying at home.

4. Finding ways to increase income

Income can be quite low for college students as most of their time is spent towards their studies. However, students should determine the best ways for them to improve their money management by increasing how much they bring in. An increased income will be always helpful to manage your debt issues per month, which is the prime reason for low savings.

Working a typical job

It is not uncommon to see a college student with a part-time job. Part-time working is still reasonable even while handling college courses. Look for opportunities that may offer benefits to some degree even if you are a part-time employee.

Paid internships

Some college students rely on internships while in school to complete their degree or have an easier time seeking opportunities once graduated. If an internship program doesn’t collide with your school schedule, a paid internship can prove it’s value long-term.

Gaining a side hustle

The biggest advantage in developing a side hustle is the time flexibility. If you have a demanding school schedule, entering the gig economy can allow you to increase income more on your own terms. Determine what your skills are or what skills you are going to learn, to work as a freelancer. Even a part-time commitment to freelancing could increase your income substantially.

Whatever option you choose, remember that working within the field of your degree while in college can have its advantages. With a higher income, money management will be considerably easier.

Proper habits yield positive results

College students will learn the importance of finances as they experience some limitations. Financial decisions could put you on the right or wrong path at a young age. In addition to actions to save or make more money, there are other suggestions to manage money well.

Pay on your student loans while still enrolled in school for good rapport. Use resourceful apps like Mint to track expenses and budget accordingly with every categorized transaction. Cut unnecessary expenses out to avoid higher monthly costs. And most importantly, always save for a rainy day and be disciplined with how it’s spent.