So I always hear all these stories about being broke in college. Hell, my friends and I have been joking about the fact that we’re going to be broke college students for months. But I don’t want to be a broke college student, nor do I plan to be. I plan on saving money and being fiscally responsible! So to accomplish this, I’ve been doing a lot of research. I most likely won’t be living the “good life” in college, but I sure won’t be trying to budget the $5 left in my bank account to buy groceries for the week. Here are 6 money habits I plan on implementing in college.
Yes, I know everyone tells you this, but we all know you don’t listen. And even if you do, you know you can save more. Most college students are about living in the moment and don’t think about those $3 they spent on fast food. The reason saving money is on the top of my financial goals list is because at some point, I am going to leave college. I want to have a lot of savings before then so that I am prepared for the real world. I also want to save money for travel. College is one of the only times in my life I will have months off to travel. I want to use that time before my vacation time is limited to two weeks.
2//Creating and Sticking to a Budget
College will probably be my first time really needing a budget. Budgeting is a habit I think everyone should start, but don’t do. I never want to be in a position where I need something, but worry that can’t afford it. I’d rather control my finances, rather than having them control me.
You’ll probably start college living in a dorm room, so you won’t have much space to begin with. Buying less stuff will save you money and space (which most college students don’t have much of anyway). For college, I want to prioritize experiences over stuff. I would rather go roller skating with friends rather than buying clothes. This can be different for you. It depends on your priorities. I want to make sure that I don’t waste money on things I don’t care about. I want to prioritize experience over material possessions.
4//Cook Your Own Food
College students are all about convenience. It’s easier to go to a fast food restaurant for dinner, rather than cooking your own. It’s easier to go to the convenience store to get a snack instead of going to the grocery store once a week with a list. It’ll also probably taste better (I am guilty of buying things for convenience, too) Of course, if you have a meal plan, this doesn’t apply to you, but many college students move off-campus after the first year. I am not going to live in a dorm at all, so I will most likely end up having to make and/or buy my own meals when I get an apartment.
5//Use Credit Cards Responsibly
Everyone says that college students shouldn’t have credit cards, but I plan on getting one at some point. Simply for building credit. When I graduate college, I would like to be able to get an apartment and hopefully a car that my parents didn’t pay for. Building credit is an important step to gaining independence, so I plan on starting early.
There was actually a lesson in school on using credit cards responsibly. It was all about using them for small purchases, emergencies, etc. One big thing I learned was that it is better to have two credit cards. One with very low interest for emergencies like a hospital visit, and another that you use to get points or airline miles. This is what I eventually plan to do.
Remember to pay your credit card bill every month. You are already in enough debt. Don’t add on to it. Only buy things you know you can afford.
We are very lucky. So many people take for granted everything they have.
One day, during my senior year, my friends were talking about the struggles of getting into college and choosing a college.
I said, “Aren’t we lucky that we are in a position where our biggest problem is what college we are going to.”
Not if we’re going to college, but where. We are so lucky to live in a country where we get 13 years of education for free (Well, we pay taxes, but you get the picture). We have had so many opportunities that have led to this point.
So instead of spending $5 on coffee, give it to that homeless veteran who has fallen into a hard time. Donate money to organizations that help refugees get out of hopeless situations in other countries. There are so many things we can do. Just one dollar can help. (Watch the documentary Living On One Dollar. It puts a lot of things in perspective).
I’m not saying to give up too much. I know I probably won’t have $100 to spare while I’m in college, but giving something is better than nothing.
(Disclaimer-I am not saying this for religious reasons. People should do this anyway, even if it’s not for tithe or a pillar of Islam)
Well, these are some financial goals I am setting for college. I hope you enjoyed or have been inspired to do the same.
Did I miss anything? What financial goals do you have for college? What financial mistakes do you wish you didn’t make in college or any time otherwise?
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