College and/or University are always exciting ventures. It’s a brand new world, accompanied by new faces and new challenges. For most, post-secondary education is also about freedoms. Whether you have your own savings, or a loan of any kind, keeping tabs on your finances becomes tough between the 3-in-the-morning social life and hitting the books at 4-in-the-morning on the day of your final, and you can find yourself falling deeper in debt. Here’s some advice to keep in mind when it comes to staying on top of your financial situation:
Make a budget and stick to it!
Most people take the word budget synonymously with the word restriction, which can be especially off-putting if this is the first time you’re out in the world all on your own. Make a note or chart of your income and sync it to your social life, your necessities like food and clothing, your regular expenditures, an emergency fund, your savings and of course – a bit of pocket money. To show you how simple it is, CC Bank made an easy to follow a guide and included a free spreadsheet to help you get started, click here to see their budget guide.
Hold onto your receipts
Get a folder or a portfolio and keep your receipts, pay stubs and bills, just in case you ever need to make reference to them. In some instances – through your school or the government – certain things can be claimed on your taxes (ie- bus passes).
Essentials ALWAYS come first
Stay on top of what needs to be paid, and never miss a payment – whether it is your tuition, books, or a phone bill. This way, if you come up short on a payment, a quick phone call explaining your situation will result in a better outcome. Missing frequent payments on your necessities will only sour your relationship with whomever you owe money to. They might not be so forgiving after the 4th or 5th time.
Avoid the bookstore
More often than not, there is a ridiculous markup on textbooks in your school’s bookstore, and it’s usually for the sake of convenience. Unless the author is a professor who has written the textbook for their course, you’ll find them cheaper online.
Aside from Amazon, look into local book exchange websites. If you Google “college textbook exchange”, you are presented with tons of options – some general websites and some school-specific ones. If your school has a Facebook page (which is almost guaranteed), make a post that you’re looking for a certain textbook. With that thought, if you are 100% finished with a textbook, turn to one of these sites to share or sell your book. You won’t get your full investment on the book back, but even ¼ of it is something!
Be wary of identity theft
Like anyone else, as a student, the last thing you need is someone trying to take your money while impersonating you. Avoid scams, look deeply into anything “free” and generally avoid keeping credit card numbers laying around or posting any important information online.
Apply for as many scholarships or grants as possible, and borrow as little as possible
Look into and apply for school/program specific or general grants and scholarships you qualify for. A grant and a scholarship never have to be paid back, and can put less strain on whatever money you have to borrow.
Live within your means
This applies to any given situation. If you know you cannot afford something, don’t spend the money. It won’t be worth it in the end.
If you are about to embark on the incredible adventures of being a College or University student, be sure to keep an eye on your personal finances to allow for a smooth journey as well as transition into the work field. If someone you know is or will soon be a student themselves, be sure to share this blog post!