Now that we have gotten through the college applications, offers, and commitment, let’s run one final check on your to-do list. Have you bought your twin-sized sheets yet? How about contacting your roommate through social media? Here’s a big one: have you planned out how you’re going to spend your money during your first year of college?
We know it’s a pretty big task to cross something like that off your to-do list, but it’s also one of the most important things you can do while preparing yourself for college. The next four years are going to be an exciting time, and while we know you’ll do great, we also know that keeping a check on your finances is an absolute necessity if you want to enjoy your time in college to the fullest. Here are a few things you should do to keep yourself financially savvy while in school.
File this one under obvious, but for a lot of students, creating and sticking to a budget while in college may be a tall order. It’s going to be hard to find the time between classes while in college, but whenever you can, try to fit planning a budget into your schedule. Your budget should include what you consider ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ during the next four year. Make sure you know what you must absolutely spend your money on and what you can wait for. Create a list, make an excel sheet, or do whatever you can to make sure you know your budget and adhere to it. Keep an eye out for deals and specials offered to you as a college student to keep you on a budget. Work-study is a great way to both earn and save money for your college education, search online to make sure you never pay full price for your textbook, and always have your I.D. ready for those sweet, sweet student discounts.
2. LEARN ABOUT YOUR STUDENT LOANS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
In all likelihood, you’ll need to take out loans to finance your education. For a lot of college students, the thought is that these loans won’t matter until after college. In reality, knowing everything you can about your loans before graduation is a must. Some questions to ask yourself: Do you know the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans? Do you know what your interest rate will be? How much of your tuition and cost will be covered by loans, and how much will that grow over the next four years? If you don’t know the answers to these question, it may be time to do a little research. Or, even better: before you even decide upon the loans you need to take out, ask a professional. Planning how to finance your time in college is one of Parros College Planning’s specialties. With our assistance, we can help you fully understand topics ranging from EFC to net price. Educate yourself before you commit, you’ll thank yourself later.
3. KEEP YOURSELF ORGANIZED
Not just advice for college, but for life! Make sure you have a file where you keep all of your bills, receipts, pay stubs, or any correspondence related to your college finances. You never know when you might need these, so try to make sure you don’t get bogged down. It’s also helpful to make sure you keep yourself update-to-date on any potentially added costs you may accrue. You can easily set up reminders through your phone for when you need to pay a bill or when you are coming close to exceeding your budget. Keep an eye out for unnecessary costs like having an overdue book or overdraft fees, and you’ll start to see a difference in your spending habits.
4. SAVE WHEN YOU CAN
College can often become a period of excessive spending. While we agree that sometimes everyone needs a break to treat themselves, sometimes you’ll need to make some sacrifices to save a bit of cash. If you set a goal for yourself to save a specific amount each month and then put that into a savings plan, boom! You’re #adulting. And, hey, if you make your goal, why not spend a little on something nice for you?
5. RESEARCH FOR YOUR FUTURE
College is a time meant to teach you the basics for success and independence, but you might need to put a bit more work in outside of class in order to truly achieve this. Take some of your free time to research more about your finances and financial stability after you graduate. Learn a bit about your credit, IRA or other investment options. These are things you’ll want to have some familiarity with as you grow into your future self.
College is expensive, but it doesn’t mean that you need to find yourself drowning in debt before you get your diploma. Knowing the basics and setting yourself on the right path can help you not only during your college years but well beyond your time there.