Attention College-Bound Students: 9 Tips for Managing Your Budget
Fall (is almost) in the air, which means that schools are going back in session all across the country. From decorating your dorm room to selecting a major, as a college student, you are presented with lots of decisions as you progress on the path to real life #adulting. One priority that should be high on your list of to-dos? Educating yourself on budgeting tips. To help you get started, our team at American Heritage Credit Union has pulled together our top six budgeting tips for college-bound students. Let’s check them out.
9 Budgeting Tips for College Students
- Create a Budget:It seems like a no-brainer, but more often than not, college students (and older adults) don’t have a budget to help manage their spending, savings, etc. In fact, it’s estimated that only “41% of Americans use a budget even though it’s one of the most effective ways to keep track of our finances” (CNN). Once you’re on board and ready to start a budget, the My Money Manager tool, provided byAmerican Heritage Credit Union, is a great place to start. My Money Manager is an online tool that helps you better plan and control your finances, and assists with essentials like: establishing a budget, categorizing expenses and creating savings goals. Learn more here.
- Open a Checking Account: Starting college is the perfect time to open a checking account, so that you can begin to practice smart money management skills. The good news is that American Heritage Credit Union has a Young Adults Account that is the perfect tool for you to manage your money no matter what your financial goals are or how much money you’re able put into your checking account. When you open a Young Adults Account, you have access to every product and service that American Heritage offers, including:
- Get a Credit Card (Use in Moderation): If you don’t already have a credit card, now is a good time to sign up for one. In fact, according to NerdWallet, “when used responsibly, a credit card can help you build a good credit history, allowing you to get loans at favorable interest rates, cheaper insurance and even a new cellular plan. Credit cards can also help you earn rewards on your everyday purchases and protect those purchases in case of theft or damage” (NerdWallet). However, the key here is to make sure that you maintain a good credit score by making on-time payments and keeping the balance low.
- Take Advantage of On-Campus Amenities: From free food to cultural events (i.e. movie nights, concerts, etc.), college campuses are buzzing with fun, free, and easy-to-access offers for students—making this one of our favorite budgeting tips for college students. We recommend you check the different university communication channels (i.e. student newspaper, online portal, etc.) for what’s available.
- Put Your Student ID Card to Use: Being a college student has its perks, including the various discounts and offers you have access to simply by showing your student ID card. Plus, this is an easy budgeting tip, since all it requires is that you have a student ID card. Once you have one, you can automatically have access to discounts and other offers. To demonstrate, Business Insider pulled together the top 34 discounts you can get using a student ID card, and we’ve included a few of our favorites below:
- Apple:Looking to buy a new Mac? Flash your ID card and get up to $200 off.
- Movies: Most theatres (i.e. AMC, Regal, etc.) offer varying levels of student discounts.
- Amazon: When you use your student ID, Amazon offers six months of Amazon Prime for free. Free? Yes, please.
- Be a Thrifty Shopper:Did you know that the average college textbook costs $200 and that “the College Board estimates that the average student in this country spends around $1,200 a year on books and supplies” (CNBC). Reduce this cost by looking to buy your books used, or even better, see if they’re available to download on your Kindle or iPad.
Another budget tip? Once you have your books purchased, try taking your thriftiness across your other purchases. For example, you can look to buy second-hand furniture on sites like Craigslist or on a Facebook Swap and Shop group. Another budget-friendly strategy? Buying clothes from online thrift stores, like ThredUp.
- Consider Your Housing Options: From dorm rooms to off-campus living, the costs can range depending on where your school is located, and what type of costs are associated with each option. Do your research to see which housing option makes the most sense for your budget. If you have your heart set on the more expensive choice, be sure to seek a roommate (or roommates) who can help split the cost.
- Pick Transportation Wisely: Depending on your circumstance, a car may or may not be a good option for your during your college career—as owning a car can come with other costs, i.e. parking, insurance, maintenance, etc. That’s why, we recommend either buying used (to save money) or consider ditching the car and using alternative modes of transportation (i.e. walking, biking, public transit, Zipcar).
- Use the 20/30/50 Rule: The 20/30/50 rule is a popular budget tip, and for good reason—it can help you balance your spending across your various expenses—ranging from student loan payments to rent. So how does it work? “First, devote 20% of your take-home pay towards financial betterment. In this case, you could direct it toward paying off your student loans every month. Then, allot 30% toward fun/wants, such as nights out with your friends. Finally, spend 50% on essentials, such as your rent” (Forbes).
Interested in discovering other budget tips during your college career? Contact a member of the American Heritage Credit Union team and we’d be happy to help! And don’t forgot to follow us on our social channels: Facebook and Instagram.