Money Management for College Students
Written by Eddy Hood
College is an experience that allows us to explore, try new things, and make our own decisions on a larger scale. It's a great time in our lives, but it can also be a very expensive investment. Positive financial decisions and personal accounting will help to make your life after college more manageable. By planning ahead and starting to save early, students can set themselves up for success financially and academically.
Saving and budgeting for college can help to alleviate stress once college application time rolls around, and there are many different options that students and their families can take advantage of. Personal savings plans are always available, as are other savings options. For instance, 529 college savings plans have become popular tools to help students and parents plan for college. Self-discipline in saving and accurate bookkeeping are crucial when saving for college, as that first experience out of one's childhood home and the new freedom to make decisions for one's self regarding money and spending come with many new temptations. Late nights out with friends, personal expenses, and maybe a need for the latest computer and electronics for that new dorm room can really add up and subtract from your rainy-day funds and money meant for one's education. Stay focused and manage your money with long-term goals in mind: If what you're looking to buy won't help you reach those goals, you might be better off putting that money into savings.
Budgeting for your living expenses and monthly bills is a great first step in creating the savings plan you'll need to succeed. Make a list of the bills you pay every month, then add in an estimated amount spent on personal items and groceries. Subtract that from your monthly income, and the amount you have left over is the amount that could be deposited into savings. That amount could also be used to pay some of the principal of any existing student loans while you're still attending school. This is a great option for students, as it allows them to minimize their student loan debt even before the interest kicks in and payments begin. Remember that most student loans do not need to be repaid while one is enrolled in school, so any dent that a student can put into their overall debt will help minimize their repayment amounts upon graduation.
Working while attending college is also very common and allows students to not only make college a reality but, ideally, gain experience in their field, maybe through a work-study program or the like. The most important thing to remember when working your way through school is that one's first priority is education. Working employment into the mix is great but should not take away from one's studies; it's a very tricky balancing act but has a real financial reward. There are many options for students interested in working while in school. Work-study programs, on-campus jobs, and resident assistant positions are all options available through most, if not all, colleges and universities. Many students find that working as employees of their college, rather than in traditional employment, offers a more flexible schedule and management that supports their goals of higher education. Colleges often feature on-campus job fairs and recruitment events throughout the year to encourage students to apply and take advantage of these opportunities. It works well for all, as student employment fills an important need of the college, provides students with employment and income, and builds community and fosters student pride in their college.
Saving for College
- Saving for College
- Saving Early = Saving Smart!
- What Is a 529 Plan?
- College Savings for All Students
- College Savings Options
- Establishing a Budget
- Budgeting for College
- Budget for the Unexpected While in College
- Budget Worksheets
- How to Budget and Pay for College (infographic)
Managing Student Loans
- Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debt
- Managing Your Loans: Repayment and Popular Lenders
- Managing Student Loan Debt
- Know Your Student Loan Options
- Federal Student Loans Basics and Management Information
Jobs and Making Money
- Work-Study Programs
- Being an RA Can Help Cut College Costs
- Creative Ways to Pay for College
- Working Through College
- Is Working Through College Still Feasible?
- Student Loan Calculator
- General Budget Sheet for Students
- Creating a Spending Plan
- Live Like a Student Now so You Don't Have to Later
- The Envelope Method of Spending/Budgeting for Young Adults