Living on campus is a blast. You get to meet new people, you’re always close to your classes, even on the farthest end of the school, and the essentials of basic living are right at your fingertips.
However, at some point, you’ll move off campus. Whether it’s cheaper or you just want the freedom that comes along with your own place, either way you’re going to need to learn how to manage your money so when you do go wild with your paychecks, you don’t feel the hurt as bad.
What are a few things you can do to help yourself in the long run?
1. Learn the difference between your wants and your needs.
Creating a budget is hard. There’s a lot of factors to consider, especially if you’re out on your own. However, at least writing down your income and subtracting the bills you absolutely have to pay will give you a good bearing of what you can actually spend. Which is where deciding what you need and don’t need comes into play.
The less you spend, obviously the more you’ll save, and the more you’ll be able to put away for a day you really want or need something. By rooting out what you truly need and what you don’t, you you’re less likely to feel like you’re making a sacrifice, and less likely to splurge.
2. Take care of your stuff.
This is said with the best of intentions. When you’re transitioning from dorm life to living on your own, it’s easy to lose yourself and get behind.
In the long run, though you’re going to want to take care of your stuff, or you’re going to spend more having to replace items. Small things like letting dishes sit until they rust, or not unclogging the sink and letting it build up can become costly.
There are also the bigger things that add up faster than you’d believe. For example, not fixing that leak in your washer can lead to wood rot in the floor or other costly damage, or not checking your tires could mean driving on the rim of the wheel down the highway.
Learning to take care of your stuff in the dorms makes it a little easier to upkeep when you move out, as long as you stick with the routine.
3. Take advantage of campus eating and meal plans.
For those staying on campus, meal plans are worth looking into. They make regular meals accessible without having to spend extra money grocery shopping, and wondering where you’re going to put your food.
They’re a resource you can use when you need it, plus it teaches you early budgeting when you have to remember how many meals you have left at the end of the semester.
For those staying off campus, it’s a different story. When you’re not on campus, you’re less likely to head to a dining hall for breakfast or dinner, and grabbing lunch on campus is hardly worth the money you’re spending. On average, a meal in the dining hall is $7-$11, and depending on what your school offers, you may not even use half the meals if you live off campus, costing you more in the long run.
4.Online banking is your friend
Keeping track of your finances and budget has never been easier with the age of the smartphone. Most banks give you the ability to check your accounts from a mobile app, or at least on your computer. It’s usually free, and gives you 24 hour access to all your funds. If you’re ever worried or wonder where you stand with this month’s budget, the information is literally at your fingertips.
It’s tough getting a handle on your money. Especially when you’re earning your own and there are just so many things you want and can afford. Managing your money will give you the leeway to afford more in time, and keep your bank account out of the negative.
Which always makes for an easier college experience.
Sacha is an aspiring writer, currently feeling the struggle as she shamelessly promotes herself across the internet. She is in love with birds, big dogs that think they’re lap dogs, and all things science. You can see what she’s up to now on her Twitter.