Starting college can be daunting. For most it is the first time that they are away from their parents and subsequently have to begin to take care of themselves. Managing money can be a very difficult part of college life because it is something that a lot of people have not had a lot of experience with, or, your responsibility to save money changes as you begin to accumulate loans that will eventually have to be paid off. It is important to start managing your money right away, regardless of your financial situation.
Establishing an independent bank account is an important first step. Go with a bank that is countrywide or even worldwide, as this will make it easier if you move to go to school or travel abroad. Many banks offer accounts for college students that are checking/ savings accounts, require no minimum amount of money to stay active, and can be linked to a debit/ credit card. Accounts like this also have ways to access your account online and sometimes directly from your phone so you can look at your spending history and pay your bills.
When you have your account settled, begin budgeting. The first step to utilize your account is to have your paychecks directly deposited into your account. In addition, take into consideration how much you are making at your job, if you have one and how much your parents are willing to give you in addition to any other ways you receive an income. Then, make a list of expenses. I recommend making separate lists based on the need of the items; for example, make a list of necessary school supplies and books first, then list things like personal care/ hygiene products, then food, and then fun things. If you have limited funds, you need to have your priorities in order and to keep all of your funds, you still need to have priorities in order.
When you are thinking about spending money, remember that you live on or near a college campus. Use your student discount as much as possible. If you are on a meal plan, get the most out of it so you can cut back on your snack spending. For example, if your cafeteria is buffet style you can always eat a meal and make yourself a sandwich to go. If your books are wildly expensive, or you are not sure if you really need them, find used books. Your bookstore will probably have a section of books that are used, but you can also ask around to see if any of your classmates or friends has old books that you need. If you really don’t want to spend any money, you can probably even check most of your books out from the library, you just have to be careful about overdue fees and book availability. Being thrifty about what you buy while on campus is a surefire way to make sure you are earning more than you are spending.
Lastly, do your best but remember that you are also in college and you might make mistakes. Have a back up plan for emergencies, like your parents or financial aid that can help you if you overspend and need money. If plan B doesn’t work out, there are 24 other letters in the alphabet.