Entering the world of higher education is a very exciting time for any new student, but there is also so much new territory to cover when it comes to finances: a new course load, tuition, paying for daily expenses like room and board, and finding a way to fund the next four years.
A recent study, as reported in an article in U.S. News, claimed that a little over a third of college students don’t have enough money to feed themselves, and almost 10% more in community college aren’t able to eat a balanced diet. Similar numbers are given when students are asked if they can afford utilities and monthly expenses, like rent, credit card payments or their car title loans.
But the good news is, there are several ways that college students can avoid making common financial mistakes that have a long and lasting impact.
How You Can Avoid Common Money Mistakes in College
Choose a Modest Place to Live.
Dorm rooms and apartment complexes charge astronomical amounts of money to young students for amenities that aren’t absolutely necessary. Choosing a twin room, rather than a double, and deciding to have two roommates instead of living alone, can cut down the cost of room and board.
Budgeting Makes All the Difference.
Although budgeting isn’t something taught in all high schools, there are several mobile apps that make the process much easier for college freshmen. Apps, or a simple spreadsheet, help keep track of weekly or monthly essentials that students need to be able to pay, like rent, food, books, and transportation. This is a great lesson for students, as they can stop and think, “Do I really need a latte every day from Starbucks? Can I stick to ordering pizza once a week (or less) and head to the cafeteria, instead, to see my friends?” If students find they really do need some of these items, they can always find a way to add in “fun” essentials to their budget.
Don’t Miss Out on Free College Forums and Activities.
One of the best things about going to college is very similar to living in a large, international city: there is always something entertaining going on, somewhere, with people you can call friends. The one added benefit to the college activities, however, is that they are most likely free! Discussions on interesting topics in your field of study from guest lecturers, games of frisbee on the front lawn, or free movie viewings held in the basement of the science building are all examples of common flyers or word-of-mouth activities hosted by students or student societies. If you or your student goes to a larger university, there may even be a museum on campus that is free of charge with a student I.D. in hand.
Take Public Transport or Walk to Class.
Smaller colleges have the luxury of being incredibly walkable, and larger universities have shuttle services or buses that get students from point A to point B. Cars are not essential to bring to campus, which eliminate car payments, car insurance, and payments to the college for a parking space.
Sell Your Books to an Incoming Student.
College literature and textbooks can easily break the bank, costing over $1,000 each year. Besides renting your course books from the library, you can buy second-hand editions on Amazon.com and sell them back or to incoming students when the semester is over.
College isn’t always easy, but finding ways to cut back on everyday student costs can be. By following these tips and tricks, students will graduate with less debt and more preparation for taking on finances in the real world.