College time is one of the best periods in our life, but we spend most of it worrying about finances. It is a paradox of youth that we haven’t reached desired financial independenceyet and still we can’t work full time to ensure a stable income. However, you can manage the funds you have more effectively and reach the goals you set or maintain the lifestyle you want with the following 12 tips (some are obvious, some are genius):
- Determine the main sources of your expenses. Evaluate what you can cut on.Ruthlessly define the purchases that can be eliminated. Change your plan at the gym to an affordable one, or cancel long-forgotten subscriptions.
- Practice self-control. It is important to keep your goal in mind, what is more important to you, your financial well-being, or a moment of weakness that will put you few steps back.Avoid the ‘treat yourself’ mentality, because it can otherwise destroy your self-control and all your current financial achievements.
- Rent your textbooks instead of buying. You and your friend can either buy one textbook to share, or you can simply rent it on resources like Chegg (online textbook marketplace). If you have some books someone would be interested in renting, you can earn a few bucks. Also, there is a trick of buying books and returning them during the allowed period. It can be useful if you’ve changed your mind about taking some classes, or if your professor asked for you to have the book and it is no longer relevant.
- Meal prep.College is the time to become independent and develop various skills you’ll need in life. There are so many benefits to meal prepping! It takes not so much effort as soon as it becomes a habit, you just need to get started. You are eating what you choose, so you can eat healthier, save money by cooking yourself, reduce waste from disposable dishes, get creative with your food and snacks. Also, as soon as you put some effort into your food, it works as a motivation to skip a meal at a café or canteen. You can cook once ahead a few days ahead and forget about it.
- Stop buying coffee every day, if you have a habit like that. Strategic investment into tumbler coffee mugs for multiple uses pays off in three days. In addition, you can enjoy coffee of richer taste because you can choose the brand of beans and the roast you like. Homemade coffee opens more challenges and opportunities to your taste buds.
- Find some extra sources of income or side hustle according to your skills (design, coding, playlists’ creating, writing, tutoring, dog-walking, babysitting, investing, etc.). While you are working, you can delegate your essay to Pro-Papers.There are a lot of freelance offers that would take only a few hours a day. Additionally, it can be mentionedin your resume afterwards, so you can consider something related to the career you want to build.
- Analyze your main expenses. For money management habits to stick and for you to reach the desirable goal, all the changes should be as seamless as possible. Of course, you need to avoid impulsive buys. But there are emotional purchases that are important to help you focus on the goal and avoid a massive breakdown in the future. If you have a hobby that makes you happy, you don’t need to cut on it. Such “emotional” expenses should be prioritized since they are essential for your mental and physical well-being.
- Stop consuming more than you need. It concerns clothes, food, stuff like books and games. Take care of your clothes, read the labels on how to wash it, fix it if it is damaged. Stick to basic colors and clean cuts, so your outfit looks modern and less dependent on trends.
- Use things 100%. If you want to buy a new book, do it only after you’ve read the one you started earlier. One of the most useful rules in money management is not to spend money on a new thing until you are finished with the previous one. It relates to makeup, fashion, books, and food.
When it comes to food, be honest with yourself: is this salad going to rot with that avocado in your fridge or you are going to eat it? Buy only food you are truly capable of eating. By staying honest with yourself, you will enjoy the food you want and there will be no guilt about stuff didn’t have time to eat.
- Start tracking your expenses. When you see your expenses in real-time, you become way more responsible with your finances and avoid impulse purchases. A lot of people use budgeting apps that help them stay focused on the goal, whether it is saving money or tracking expenses. One of the best apps for these purposes is Mint. It’s been around for ages and there are thousands of positive reviews. It has automated updates, real-time expenses tracking, categories of transactions, and the ability to sync with your banks.
- Look for budget alternatives. Allow yourself to be greedy because it means that you are financially conscious. Use coupons, track sales, ask for discounts and make purchases online with cashback extensions.You can buy generic brands or go to the farmers’ market whenever you have a chance.
- Since college is a period when you need to acquire new skills and learn how to live independently, the most important money management tip is to save 10-15% of your income at an account you don’t have easy access to. It will allow for financial stability in the future and will act as a safety net when you need it. However, treat this account as something untouchable or emergency fund.