Many students consider personal finance management during college a rite of passage to adulthood, and for good reason. Managing your money can be a challenge, especially if you’re off to college and you have ultimate rule over your allowance. You will have to control your spending, do the budgeting and plan the expenses for the week. While you’re juggling every expense, you still need to continue eating right and sleeping comfortably.
Some students cope with their limited finances well, while others struggle. Here are some tips on how to be frugal in college without depriving yourself of the basics.
Let Go of Extras
The money your folks gave you or that you saved working part time jobs during high school could easily go down the drain if you continue to spend haphazardly. You might not notice the hidden expenses during the first week or the first month, but soon, you will be wondering where all your money is going.
Your allowance is the money you use to sustain yourself in college.
How frugal you are with this money depends on how willing you are to let go of some extras that you used to enjoy when you were living with your folks. For example, instead of going to the laundromat yourself, you can use a service that will get your laundry done without breaking a sweat. While this will save you valuable time for studying during exam week, this could turn into an expensive habit.
There are so many business around that offer convenient solutions and recreation for students that don’t mind splurging a week’s allowance on something that could give them what they need for the moment. But giving in to your need for comfort or convenience every time could drain your allowance fast.
Identify the Main Expenses
Preparing yourself for a lifestyle of thrift means keeping a record of the main expenses you have to allot money for. If you took out a sizable loan in the past, the monthly fees have to be paid. The same thing applies if you borrowed money to afford a new gadget that you’ve been dying to have since you started your senior year. Some students learn about unpaid debt and towering interest rates the hard way. Make sure your main expense is covered before you allot a portion of your budget to other expenses.
Do the math. Be realistic about how much you can shell out for your main expenses without sacrificing your daily needs. If it turns out that you will always be short on cash if you don’t find another source of income soon, seriously consider a part time job. If you anticipate a few more expenditures in the next month, plan ahead.
Live With What You Can Afford
People always say they try to live within their means, but a lot of their purchases come after they’ve felt the main enemy of frugality, envy.
You just have to accept that there are things you couldn’t afford and it doesn’t matter if everyone in the dorm but you has it. Fortunately, when it comes to new gadgets, they get old rather quickly. What could be worth an arm and a leg now would be on ebay at half price a few months later when a newer model comes along. The same theory applies when it comes to clothes. Watch out for inventory clothes at the end of a season, when the clothes you’ve been eying a few months ago would be cheaper because of the season.
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