College Student Money Mistakes
It’s WAY too easy to spend money, but making sure you’re financially savvy is important for your future.
We all know how to spend money, but making sure you’re financially savvy is important for your future. After you graduate there’s a good chance you’ll have student loans to pay off, and making those payments will be a whole lot easier if you know how to budget. Carrington College has Student Finance Support staff ready to help you figure out college finances. If you want to start making smart money decisions after graduation, you need to know what mistakes you’re making right now.
No budget, big problem
Sticking to a budget sounds boring but it’ll really help you in the long run. If you take control of your spending habits you’ll be ok if any unexpected expenses or emergencies pop up. There are a ton of budgeting tools online you can use, like Mint or Personal Capital.
One way to do it is to divide your expenses into different categories, like food, transportation and bills. Then you can set aside a certain amount of money for each section. Instead of using a credit card, use cash for each category. Once you run out, that’s it for that month.
If you’re the kind of person who has a tough time sticking to a budget, start small. Instead of having a strict allowance, keep all your receipts. If you have a piece of paper handy you can write down all your expenses at the end of the week and add them up. This will help you actually see how much money you’re using. Being able to visualize how much you’re spending will show you where you’re doing well… and where you aren’t.
If you’re friends are always going shopping or grabbing dinner after class it can be hard to turn them down. It’s such a big deal it even has a name – Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO. #FOMO is really common among college students, but it’s something you’ll have to get a handle on if you want to manage your money. It’s hard to say no to friends, especially if they’re doing something you really like, but you have to put your foot down. All that extra spending really does add up.
Let’s be honest, your friends probably can’t afford it either, but if you want to win the finance game, just say no to extra spending. Next time they suggest doing something that isn’t in the budget, stay strong and say no. Don’t be embarrassed to say you can’t afford it or that you’re trying to save money, maybe they’ll follow in your footsteps!
You can always suggest a free alternative too. Maybe have a game night, or do dinner at home (it’s a lot cheaper). You can have everybody bring a dish and have a fun, inexpensive, potluck.
Don’t pay extra fees to get to your own cash! If you’re planning to go out for the weekend and need money, think ahead and withdraw it from your bank. If you wait until you’re downtown and pick a random ATM you’ll be charged ATM fees you could have easily avoided.
ATM fees aren’t the only unnecessary charges that could be adding up. Make sure you don’t fall into the overdraft trap. That’s another reason it’s a good idea to have a budget, if you don’t know what you’re spending, you don’t know what you have left in the bank! Also, if your account is low enough to be overdrawn, chances are you can’t afford the bank fee. Be careful with your money and check your balance often.
Cutting costs like these in college can help save you a lot of money, and they’ll help you develop better money habits overall. Try some of these suggestions over the next couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference.