It’s late August which means it’s time for students to head back to campus! However, some of you are starting this semester off a little differently than previous ones. Instead of moving into the dorm room you occupied in your first year, you’re moving into a house or apartment. While this can definitely be one of the most exciting times of your life, it’s important to remember that being on your own comes with a lot of financial responsibility. As you move into this stage of your life, managing your money properly becomes even more vital, especially when you start to rack up bills and other expenses that come with managing a household. So, to help you with this transition, here are six financial tips for college students to help you save money during this new phase of your life.
It’s not surprising that you might have a hard time getting excited when it finally comes time to spend your weekend moving heavy furniture up and down stairs. The idea of moving into a new home and a new stage of your life might be exciting, but a day breaking your back and lugging things around likely isn’t how you like to spend your weekends.
As unappealing as may seem, try to resist the temptation of hiring movers. Think of this as your first test of willpower. Most movers charge by the hour, and the price goes up substantially if you’re moving a longer distance. Also, depending on you and the movers you hire, you might be expected to add in a tip, raising the total cost of moving even more.
Not every student will have family and friends who are available to help them, and that’s expected. To reduce the amount of money you have to spend, find moving companies that offer student discounts or have lower than average rates. Make sure to shop around and review all your options instead of choosing the first company you find. Choosing the right moving company can get difficult, so utilize websites that offer tips on picking reliable moving companies. While hiring movers isn’t the most ideal way to save money, sometimes it’s unavoidable.
The prospect of moving into your first apartment and outfitting it exactly how you envisioned can be very exciting. You might be tempted to sift through catalogues and homeware websites and scoop up everything that catches your eye. This is something you’re going to want to avoid. Impulse buying will have you wondering why you only have $20 in your savings account and 15 decorative throws and pillows. To help with this, make a list of the things you think you need and have someone check it over. The second opinion may help you determine what on your list is a necessity, and what isn’t.
When you’re buying items like dinnerware and decorations, it’s okay to be sparing with money. You don’t need top of the line cutlery just yet! You only need enough to cover the basics, so figure out what’s essential to your well-being while keeping the price in mind. Everyone’s essentials might be a little different, and you may not know exactly what you’re going to need, so try starting with something that you’re absolutely positive you’ll need, like a bed. One thing that many people agree on is that having a comfortable mattress is important to their overall well-being, especially in college.
After you’ve taken care of this essential, think about buying things that you use daily. For more guidance on other apartment necessities, see if the property management company you’re leasing through has any financial tips for college students or check with your university’s off-campus housing office.
When you’ve settled into your apartment, try not to get into the habit of eating takeout. Buying fast food every day adds up quickly and can hurt your bank account significantly. Making your own meals means you’ll likely be spending less money on food, and you can use the money you’re saving on important bills or household items. Look for money-conscious meal ideas to help you with this transition and to make cooking on your own a little easier. If you’re new to home cooking and need somewhere to start, take a look at this list of four inexpensive foods to help you with your home cooking.
Eating together can be a great way for you to bond with your roommates and friends at school. But making the decision to eat at home more often doesn’t mean you have to forfeit bonding time with your friends. Instead, invite them to your apartment for dinner; you can enjoy each other’s company and save a few dollars on your meal at the same time.
You can get the same information from a used book as you can a new one. Check other stores before going to your university bookstore to buy the newest edition of a book. Oftentimes, university bookstores only carry limited amounts of used books and they sell out quickly. Other college-related book sites may have the same book for a slightly lower price. You may even be able to find Facebook groups specifically created for students to buy and sell books to one another.
Also, older editions of the book you need are usually cheaper. Check with your professor before buying because sometimes there may be drastic changes between books that were published only a year apart.
Determining how much money to allocate to various bills you have may seem daunting, but it’s one of the fundamental components of managing your money. Writing down your income and your expenses can help you to determine how much money you have and what it’s going towards. It also helps you to see areas where you should be limiting your spending. Some unavoidable areas include:
Of course, there are more expenses to account for, but how many and what they are will vary depending on the person. Budgeting takes careful consideration and, depending on your income, can change the way you allocate your money.
To make budgeting even easier, use these budgeting tools to help you track and organize your finances.
One of the best things about being a university student is the variety of free services (or services that are included in your tuition) the college usually provides. Gyms, social events, cable, food discounts, and public transportation are a few examples of common amenities colleges provide their students. Use these to your advantage. After you graduate college, these services won’t be free anymore.
Instead of paying for a gym membership, go to the gym on campus. If your college offers cable, don’t pay for streaming services. If your school offers public transportation, take advantage of it and limit how often you use taxi or ride-sharing services. Go to social events thrown on your campus, they usually provide free refreshments and snacks.
Moving into an apartment, your first or otherwise, while in college can be one of the most exciting periods of your life. Although it’s exciting, it’s also important to keep these financial tips for college students in mind. By implementing them into your life you may be able to keep yourself financially stable and start your semester off right.