Balancing Your Budget: Tips for College Students

Budgeting might be the last thing on your mind when you’re in college. There are plenty of midterms, study groups and social gatherings to worry about. But your finances shouldn’t be forgotten. After all, mom and dad’s wallets aren’t all that reliable anymore.

A 2014 survey conducted by Higher One and EverFi found students are more likely to own credit cards and not pay off the balance on time. In addition, they’re less likely to save money or follow a budget. And the surveyed college students indicated they were less prepared to manage their money compared to other factors impacting everyday college life.

Don’t want to be part of this statistic? Then use these helpful money-management tips to take control of your finances.

Check Your Credit Score

Check your credit score every so often. It’s one of the most important aspects of managing your money. Your credit score is determined by a range of factors. As a college student, you most likely won’t have much credit history, and your score will likely start off in the lower range between 500 to 600.

credit score

A solid credit score is 700 or better, equaling to around a “B” on a grading scale. Why is this important? Having a good credit score can help you more easily purchase a car or a home later in life. Keep in mind there is a minimum credit score for a home loan that is typically 580 or higher. There are a handful of helpful tools and resources online, like Credit Karma, that can help you monitor your score for free.

Distinguish Wants from Needs

It’s not always easy to separate your wants from your needs. When it comes to choosing between buying gas for your car and food for a month, or even purchasing season tickets to your school’s football games, the decision might be a tough one. Clearly, one of those options you are weighing is a “want” and one is a “need.” Distinguishing your wants and needs can save you money and help you save in the long term. Speaking of the long term . . .

Think Long Term

Your next four years in school will go by in a flash. That’s why now, more than ever, it’s important to start thinking about the long term. Instead of thinking about your money on a day-to-day basis, think bigger by putting money away in a savings account. If you know your car will need new tires in six months, start saving for the expense now, rather than waiting until it’s too late.

tax_rainy day

Experts say students often overlook chances to save. Don’t splurge; save instead. It’s also smart to put together a rainy day fund. You don’t want to be left without any money in case of an emergency. Plan to budget a little money here and there so you can get yourself out of a sticky situation if it arises.

From checking your credit score and thinking long term to separating your wants from your needs, there are a wide range of ways you can save money while in college. Don’t be another statistic. Instead, use these money-saving tips to save some green and be smart about your money.