Most of us are aware that money plays an important role in all our lives and few of us can have grown up without being aware of our parents worrying about paying the rent or mortgage, utility bills, food bills, clothing bills and having enough money left over for holidays and entertainment.
But, while you will almost certainly have been aware of this, it wasn’t really your problem and you probably didn’t get involved in any of the details of your parents’ financial planning. It can be quite a shock therefore to arrive at college and suddenly find that you have to manage all of your own finances.
Managing money is not too difficult but it is an art which you need to learn and the secret is to avoid having to learn it the hard way as so many students do. So, below we are going to look at a few things you can do to manage your college finances and will then move on to look at a number of tips on how to save money in college.
Here first then are 5 essentials to ensure the proper management of your money.
1. Know How Much Things Cost.
Before you do anything else you must know what you are going to have to pay out every month so start by making a list of all your known expenses. This list will vary from one student to the next but might include such things as rent, utilities, school supplies, activity fees, transport cost, parking, groceries and possible repayment of any existing debt.
2. Set Yourself A Budget.
Once you have set aside money to meet all of your known expenses you next need to draw up a budget for your remaining money. For example, decide how much you are going to allow yourself for such things as clothes, eating out and entertainment. Also try to include some savings in your budget so that you begin to build up an emergency fund or money which can be used to those very special and infrequent purchases. Most important of all, having set yourself a budget, stick to it!
3. Keep Track Of Your Expenditure.
Even the best laid plans will come to nothing if you do not then monitor them to make sure that you are on track and so you will need to keep all of your bills, receipts and bank statements safely in one place and preferably organized into categories. Once a month you should then go through your paperwork and check to see that everything is in order and progressing according to your plan.
4. Keep A Close Eye On The Amount Of Debt You Are Carrying.
Apart from your student loans you may well have other forms of debt such as a car loan or one or more credit cards and you need to keep very careful track of these. Having a credit card is a good idea to meet emergencies but all too often students have two or three credit cards and run these up to their limit in no time at all. Credit cards can be very dangerous and run you into trouble faster than just about anything else you imagine if they are not managed correctly.
5. Beware Of Identity Theft.
Identify theft is on the rise at the moment and college students are prime targets for this particular crime. Protect your identity by keeping such things as credit cards and other financial documents and records under lock and key and taking care to remove such things as ATM slips from the machine and filing them with your financial papers rather than simply dropping them into the waste bin next to the machine. Also be careful when it comes to giving out information about yourself, especially on the Internet. Social networking sites are easy pickings for identity thieves and so be careful never to give anything more than very basic information such as your name, gender and very general details of your location.
If you follow these five principles then you will be well on your way to ensuring your financial health while you are in college.
However, things are still likely to be very tight and so one further thing you will need to do is to look for ways to save money. We’ve broken this down into a few separate areas to consider as follows:
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