This blog was written by Emily Longeretta, one of Lauren's spring interns. She is a senior from SUNY Oswego. Follow her on twitter @emilylongeretta!
In college, we have many different worries-- from relationships and friendships to classes and internships, sometimes it's easy to forget about another thing-- managing our finances. This is something that it may be easy to forget about, but will sneak up on you later on. So, here's 5 tips to keeping your finances in line during your time at college. Also, you can check your credit report to stay aware of where you're at.
1. Get a low limit if you have a creadit card. While it is smart to open a credit card to establish credit, it can be extremely risky. I keep my limit at $300, which is really low. I also add to my calendar the date the bill is due (or set up online payments). If possible, pay it in full each month. If not, try to atleast pay more than "minimum" because if not, you'll end up paying forever. Late fees add up quick & can ruin your credit if you don't pay them.
2. Have a little cash on you. When going out, whether it's on a date, to a party, or shopping with friends, think about how much you can really afford to spend, and take only that with you. If you grab your wallet that is full with money, it's easy to just keep reaching in.
3. Watch the fees on the ATMs. ATM fees can sometimes be up to $5, especially at restaurants, bars, and clubs. So think ahead and take some extra time to go to your bank and withdraw the money without charge. Trust me, those fees can add up extremely fast!
4. Take advantage of being a student. While Dunkin Donuts is right down the road and you really want a latte, you have already paid (or your student loans have paid) for the dining hall. Don't pay for food if you don't need to. If you don't have a meal plan and live off campus, try to stay away from fast food. Go to the grocery store and get a few things, like bagels, to have in your room for breakfast. One bag of bagels is about the same as a bagel with cream cheese from DD or Starbucks. Also, buying sandwich meat, bottled water, and other mass supplies of groceries will save so much money on food and going out.
5. Share textbooks. While there are tons of expenses in college, textbooks are one of the highest. With many websites for used textbooks such as Amazon, another idea is to share textbooks. While some students like to have the textbook at the beginning of class, I find it to be better to head in to class, find a buddy, and ask them if they'd be interested sharing a textbook, and splitting the cost. Then plan out a schedule to who gets it when, or a study-together schedule. This can also help you study more and get help!
If you have more tips for organizing your finances in college, or things that really work for you that I left out, please comment below! We want to hear your ideas and what works and doesn't work.