Managing Money During Tumultuous Times
With inflation soaring, money is tight for everyone, and college students will feel the pinch more than most. Part of college life is learning to manage money, juggling part-time work with education and maintaining a home all at the same time; that being said, times are harder than they have been before, with CNBC finding that 70% of students are changing their plans to manage their money problems. As a result, it’s more important than ever that students develop great financial habits, to help make the most out of every cent and ensure that they are able to maintain a good quality of life.
Building a budget
While a budget might seem like an absolute basic, for many Americans, having a budget is not a matter of course. According to Fortune magazine, 40% of Americans could not answer four out of six basic financial questions, exposing a dire lack of basic financial literacy – students included. The good news is that there are so many tools available today to help students to build to a budget and stick to it. Tools like MoneySmart’s Budget Planner and Mint can help to generate and maintain budgets, with timely reminders of where overspending has happened, and upcoming hikes in payments. Indeed, many consumer banking apps now provide these tools, allowing students to manage their money as and when it comes in and then leaves the account.
Learning to prioritize
Debt is also a common part of life for a student, whether that be their student loan or student credit card balance. Not all debts are born equal, as highlighted by Cornell, who note that certain debts – such as alimony and court fees – are more pressing than credit, in many states. If a student finds themselves unable to pay all of their balances, they must seek professional advice, but also be aware of where the most important liabilities sit. Non-payment of a student loan is, for instance, a good way to get removed from educational courses, and can have life-long implications for higher education.
Saving those cents
A budget should help to guide students in establishing exactly where they can spend. Beyond that, it’s important to look for where those extra cents can be saved. According to CNN, the most common items that people waste money on are food waste and subscriptions. The former is particularly astonishing – up to 40% of everything bought is ultimately thrown out. These are two great areas for students to focus on. Do they need subscriptions to the likes of Netflix and Spotify, or can free television and services suffice? Does all of the food they buy get cooked, or does it go to waste? Finding a way to minimize waste will put more money back in the pocket.
Having some spare change is important as a student. It’s not just about education, college – it’s about learning life skills, making friends, building connections and learning about life. Living on a shoestring is no way to achieve that, and establishing control will bring about a sense of calm.