For the millions of Americans who start college every fall, college can be an exciting time. However, the reality is that college, for many Americans, can also be a very expensive time.
With most college grads accumulating an average of $30,000 in debt, college freshman could benefit from some helpful financial advice.
1) Understand Your Financing Options
Most students today need some sort of financial aid to subsidize their education. Students considering outside help in paying for college should take their time and do the research necessary to make the best and most informed decisions possible.
In addition to grants and university-sponsored scholarships, students should also research additional merit-based funding and organizational scholarships. For help in researching scholarships, students may turn to their university’s financial aid office. Often times, there are many more funding opportunities available than one may realize upon first thought.
The time and effort put into researching and obtaining additional scholarships and grants will pay off in the end, as the more a student can avoid borrowing, the better.
2) Discover The Magic Of Budgeting
Budgeting is a simple and helpful way to keep one’s finances on track. From time immemorial, people have been using budgets to keep track of expenses. Underscoring the importance of budgeting, some of man’s earliest documents, that have ever been discovered, were used to keep track of financial calculations.
Students should first take stock of their incoming earnings, in addition to any usable savings and the available financial aid. Once armed with a clear assessment of the available funds, a student can then draft a budget. The total money available should be divided to find a total spending allowance per week or month. The idea is to get an estimate of how much can be spent within a given period.
It’s okay if not every week is exactly the same. Some weeks a student may spend more on food and others on entertainment. As long as the student knows their budget, they may make adjustments as needed. A budget is just a guideline, and not a hard and fast rule.
3) Develop Helpful Systems To Keep Finances On Track
There are many systems out there aimed at helping financially conscious people in keeping their budgets on track. One popular method is the envelope system. The idea with this system is to keep spending in check and on track. A student may divide their monthly or weekly expenses into envelopes to help them manage and keep track of their money.
The best thing about this system is that it works for seasoned pros or budgeting beginners. For many who are learning how to budget, envelopes are a great first step, as they give newbies a real sense of how much money can be spent.
4) Just Say No To Credit Cards
One of the biggest pitfalls that students can make is falling into the credit trap. Exorbitant interest rates and other charges often make it difficult for students to pay back the credit cards that may be available to them. The extra time and effort involved in paying off the cards is often not worth the original expense.
5) Use Your Student Discounts
Being a student means getting discounts on things like electronics, software, and even dining at some local restaurants. Students should ask retailers about the available students discounts before making any major purchases; the savings can be astronomical.