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I am very excited to present the first post of the series ‘How I manage money in college’! The series will feature graduates as well as current students, offering tips and strategies to manage money in college. I’m hoping these stories will inspire other students to take action and also show us all that we’re not the only ones struggling with the $$.
Here’s Tom’s story from FIRE’d UP Millennial:
How I Managed Money in College to Set Myself Up for a Better Financial Future
For most well-paying careers in the modern era, a college degree is necessary. However, the cost of attending a college or university has increased considerably in recent years, making student loans necessary for most people.
Even for those students who had saved money for college, the rising tuition costs require most people to take out at least some loans in order to bridge the gap between savings and the price tag of even a public college or university.
Despite the expense of college, it is something that many people need in order to get ahead in life. A college degree can open doors, and lead to a lifetime of financial stability and success.
For me, one of the keys to minimizing student loans was to learn how to manage my money while still in school. Read on to learn more about how I did just that in order to graduate in a better position to repay my student debt and achieve financial prosperity.
A few years ago, I graduated from a large public university with a degree in engineering. While I am lucky to have landed a good job right after college, I still accumulated around $30,000 in student loan debt. This includes both private student loans and federal student loans.
I worked part-time throughout my undergraduate years, and took special care to manage my money so that any student loans that I did have would be minimized — and that I wouldn’t add to my debt burden with credit card balances after graduation.
Working part-time during college helped me to manage my money appropriately. While it might not be the best choice for everyone, having a steady stream of income taught me a lot about my finances and allowed me to pay my bills, have some fun, and still be responsible with my choices. But my job was only part-time — and it did not pay that well. So, I found other ways to save money and still enjoy my college years, which I will discuss below.
Find Student Discounts
Student discounts are everywhere, particularly if you live in a college town. From specials at local restaurants to discounts at computer stores like Apple, if there was a student discount available, I made sure to know about it — and take advantage of it. After all, if I could go to the movies for half price on a certain day, why would I pay full price to go the day before or the day after?
Look for Free Activities
Universities are well-known for offering lots of fun things to do for students, and many of them are free. Check online for various clubs, activities and different get-togethers. Not only are they typically free, but they’re a great way to meet people!
There is no way around it: if you’re going to manage your money as a college student, you have to budget. That means knowing what is coming in each month, and what is going out each month. Fortunately, there are apps that can help you do this, linking to your bank account and credit cards.
You can also make smart choices, like renting textbooks or buying used, and limiting eating out. You should also use campus amenities whenever possible — after all, you’re paying for them as part of your tuition and fees! Why pay a monthly fee for a separate gym when chances are good that you have a state of the art gym available to you for free?
Make Student Loan Interest Payments
One of the best ways to manage your money and make your life easier after you graduate is to make student loan interest payments while you are still in school.
This is especially helpful while dealing with unsubsidized federal student loans, where the government does not cover accruing interest payments, as well as private loan options, where interest accrues while attending school depending on your lender.
While this may seem impossible to some, it is generally not as daunting as it seems — particularly if you work during the school year or save money from a summer job, like I did. It can save you thousands of dollars on your student loans, because if you don’t make these payments, all of this interest will accrue and be capitalized — added to the principal of your loan— upon graduation.
Making student loan interest payments is one small way that you can manage your debt and minimize your student loans after graduation.
Managing money in college can be a challenge, particularly when there is a lot of temptation to go out and have fun and spend freely. But by making smart choices, you can set yourself up for a better financial future after graduation.
Financially Mint Top Takeaways
Paying student loans and working a part time job helped Tom manage his money at a young age.
How Tom managed his student loan debt
- Working part time in college
- Using student discounts
- Making student loan interest payments
Some awesome tips here from someone who’s been through it and can offer advice. I really like the idea of making student loan interest payments, a very good tactic for anyone starting to pay off their student debt.
What are your money management tips for students?
Tom blogs over at FIREdUpMillennial.com where he talks about his goal of achieving FIRE – Financial Independence/Retire Early. Tom loves exploring and talking about ways to make the best money decisions so money doesn’t ever have to be an obstacle. Follow him on Twitter @FIREdUpMillenn.