Mar 26 2020

5 Personal Finance Tips for College Students

Joniel Suezo

Career advice

As a college student, money is always tight. The college loans only go so far and there are several semesters to get through each year with that money. It’s necessary to come up with extra cash and manage money differently to survive and thrive through this period of your life.
Here are five personal finance tips aimed at college students. 

Budget Everything

While it’s not the most fun activity in the world, creating a reliable budget is the only way to reliably have a proper sense of what you’re going to have coming in and going out. 
Now it doesn’t need to track your actual spending – only what you planned to spend – but it’s better than running blind throughout college. Using a zero-sum budget is useful at times. It’s where you account for all your spending and make the dollars match the available funds. This helps to avoid overspending because every dollar is accounted for. 
To control spending, use the envelope system or a personal budgeting app like Mint or Personal Capital to track actual spending by category and set category limits. The latter avoids you needing to carry too much cash at one time. 

Sell Books on Amazon

There are several different ways to sell books on Amazon and it’s also possible to trade-in books too. 
Amazon has its own trade-in program. Only certain books qualify for this, but it’s useful to check it out anyway. Books can be sent to their warehouse free of charge. Monies that are generated get added to a gift card balance, which is can be used to purchase other items. 
Even though Amazon is the largest marketplace in the world, books are one of the most popular items on Amazon. Such is the popularity of the written word even with many more movies and TV series available to stream or buy today. As a result, they’re a great item to sell to willing buyers. Don’t miss out!

Stop Using Credit Cards

Credit cards are virtually thrown at students. The idea of available credit and free spending sounds wonderful, but the money must be paid back at some point. It’s not free money. 
It’s necessary to stop spending on your credit cards if you have a growing balance and cannot clear it each month. While Visa or Discover payment facilities are useful in the supermarket, it encourages taking on more debt. Credit cards should only be used if they’re managed properly, otherwise, they will only create financial headaches. 

Make Productive Use of Your Time

Earning extra money is useful to plug any gap between available funds and expenditure. When reducing spending through the use of a careful budget isn’t enough, then finding paid work is necessary to bridge this gap.
Working online is possible for students, as well as taking other roles in the workforce. Writing content for websites to generate income is popular or try being a virtual assistant for a busy digital marketing publisher. Using a site similar to Up Work is a first step to finding online work if you haven’t done so before. 

Prepare an Emergency Fund

It’s never too late (or too early) to put together an emergency fund. 
Preferably it should cover 3-6 months of living expenses. Personal finance podcasters like Dave Ramsey recommend a smaller emergency fund to put money into other areas like repaying debts. This is fine if you don’t anticipate any significant emergencies happening (they tend to be unpredictable by nature).
Without being smart with personal finances, it’s possible to get yourself into a world of hurt as a student. Fortunately, by applying a few useful tips, the situation can be improved immensely to get out of the red and into the black.