Back to School Money Tips for College Students

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College is starting up around the country right now. My sister just began her freshman year of college, and like many people her age, this is her first time living away from home. For most people, going away to school is an eye-opening experience. In a lot of ways, it’s sink or swim. Hopefully, you…

College is starting up around the country right now.

My sister just began her freshman year of college, and like many people her age, this is her first time living away from home.

For most people, going away to school is an eye-opening experience. In a lot of ways, it’s sink or swim.

Hopefully, you already have a strong financial foundation.

Money Tips For College Students

If I had to boil it down to just a few tips for how to financially successful in college, I would recommend these tips:

Live within your means

The most important thing you can do for your finances is live within your means. If you spend more money than you earn, you will always have financial difficulty. No amount of credit will erase the problems you can bring upon yourself. The key is to stay out of debt from a young age. Make a budget for your self according to what income you have, and stick to it.

Use credit responsibly

A key to living within your means is using credit responsibly. There is nothing wrong with using a credit card as long as you pay it off every month. If you decide to get a credit card, you should have a basic understanding of how credit scores are determined and how to improve your credit score. And stay away from those credit card booths that give away t-shirts and koozies for signing up for a card. You’re better off getting a cash back rewards credit card, a card that will give you cash for signing up, or one of the best student credit cards. The rates for these cards are usually better and you get rewards for using them. Again, be responsible with credit!

Set up an emergency fund

An emergency fund is important to keep you out of debt in an emergency. How big it needs to be while you are in college depends on your situation. If your parents are supporting you, you may only need $100 to catch the bus or train home. If you are completely on your own, you might want to have a thousand dollars or more. Try to save until you have sufficient funds to cover your situation. You can save yourself a lot of money and heartache by staying out of debt.

Save money

Hopefully, you have some form of income – perhaps from a part-time job, a monthly allowance, or something else. If you paid attention to the first few steps, you are living within your means, using credit responsibly, and have a little extra saved up for a rainy day. Now you need to try to find a little extra to save if you can. Even if you can only save a little bit of spare change it is worth doing. It adds up quickly!

There are many ways to save money, the key is finding something that works for you. Actively seek out deals like saving money on back to school computers, try to find ways to make free money, etc. A little extra money in the bank gives you security and allows you to splurge once in a while.

Invest in yourself

You are more than your bank account. Invest in yourself. Your career and your ability to create income is your greatest asset. There are many things you can do to enhance your career opportunities. Learn a language, learn some sales and marketing skills, and above all, chase opportunity. You are young and now is the time to see, do, and experience many new things, both personally and professionally. Do it.

Have fun

Don’t put too much stress on yourself. College is a time to live and learn, and once you graduate, you are the only person who is ever going to care what your GPA was. You will thank yourself later if you go out and experience life instead of sitting in your dorm room studying every weekend. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun. There are literally hundreds of free ways to have fun in and around college campuses. Find them!

Good luck, and enjoy your college experience!

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. Angelica says

    Another way I found to save money was to get a prepaid phone. Net10 have a flat rate for minutes. Only 10 cents per minute and 5 cents for text. For college student that 5 cents a text is great, i know most services charge 10 cents, so its like half over. There are no activation fees or anything and the service charge averages to about only 7 dollars a month. I love it because I can keep up with my family around the nation and across the country! Its a cheap way for me to stay in touch.

  2. Manu says

    I think the best money someone could do when they are in college and on a budget, is spend money on a prepaid cell phone instead of a contract phone. Why spend an unnecessary amount of money on a contract phone when you can have all the same features on a prepaid TracFone and you can pay for the minutes as you need them?

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