Financial Tips From A College Student In Debt
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Financial Tips From A College Student In Debt

Get out of the "I'm a poor college student" mental space and start building healthy spending habits that will last a lifetime.

Financial Tips From A College Student In Debt

In 2 years, I'm going to graduate from college, be out on my own, on the hunt for a job, with around 60k of debt under my belt. As a student I know so many people who will be in the same situation as me, but consistently tell themselves "I'll worry about it after I graduate". Many have given up on trying to control their finances all together.

I'm here to tell these colleagues that making smart financial decisions is the first step. Whether you're in your less-than-ideal financial situation by choice or not, you won't be able to climb out of that hole overnight. (

For all you Ramen-eaters and sale sleuths out there desperately trying to figure out where to save an extra dollar, these tips are for you.

Create a realistic budget and stick to it.

If you take one tidbit of advice from this article, please make it this one. Budgets are one of the simplest and most crucial ways to stabilize your finances, but it's difficult for people of all ages. Making your budget isn't hard, especially when you're young and have limited expenses, but the willpower is what gets people.

Begin by calculating out how much money you bring in over a month, subtract your monthly essential expenses (rent, food, cell phone bill, etc.) and how much you'd like to save, and whatever's left is your disposable income.

Your disposable income may not be as much as you'd like, but by sticking to a realistic budget you'll avoid creating unnecessary debt or putting yourself in a position where you don't have enough money for rent or groceries.

Realistic is the key word here. If you make $1000 a month and your rent is $800, saving $200 wouldn't be realistic for you after considering other expenses. Don't disappoint yourself by setting goals that are currently impossible for you to achieve.

2.            Do your research.

Talk to family, bosses, teachers, mentors, friends, anyone you trust about how they handle their finances. It's not always an easy subject to talk about, but if approached gently, real people are your best resource for advice. Learning from others' financial mistakes and successes will help you mold your own approach.

Use the internet to your advantage but be wary. Finances can be tricky, and misinformation is easy to come by, so try to only take the advice of professionals who are not giving their advice for profit.

3.            If you have the means, invest.

Investing is not just for people with salaries, people over 25, or people with business degrees. I'm just beginning the research to give it a shot myself but believe me when I say it's one of the most important things you can do to grow your money. It can be the difference between comfort and retirement later in life or having financial stress plague you until you drop dead.

There are so many websites that will help you invest, and some don't even require minimum deposits. Websites like vanguard take the fear and stress out of investing by walking you through the process and doing most of the heavy work for you.

4.            Know your on-campus resources inside and out.

If you attend a big university like me, there may be resources available that you don't know about. We have an on-campus food pantry, student health insurance, work-study programs, and a career center that reviews resumes and helps prepare students for job interviews.

5.            Know where your money is going.

Apps like mint not only help you create a budget, but monitor your bank account and update you what you're spending on. Knowing how much you spend on things like coffee, eating out, and clothing might give you a different perspective on your spending.

6.            Save little by little.

I'll say it again: you're not going to meet your financial goals overnight. Chances are, that will take years or even decades. However, starting small makes a big difference! Saving $2 a day would put an extra $730 in your bank account by the end of the year. For someone just beginning their financial independence, that's a great start.

7.            Be wary of small purchases.

Do you need that $3 coffee every day? That new outfit or beauty product? Try using the 72-hour rule before you buy non-essentials: delay the purchase by 72 hours and afterwards, decide if you still want to buy it.

Consider this: you work hard for your money. As a student, it's hard to make a livable income let alone one that allows you to grow your savings. Next time you want to spend $10 on a takeout lunch, think about how it took you an entire hour (or more) to make that money.

8.            Cook your meals at home - Chances are your body AND your wallet will thank you!

Invest in some cookbooks, make a Pinterest account, or ask a family member to give you recipes that you enjoyed growing up. You will not believe how much money cooking at home saves.

Pro-tip: buying produce and other whole foods is typically cheaper than foods like microwave meals and ramen, depending on where you buy them. Taking 15 minutes to plan your grocery list and a few hours to meal prep every week will pay off.

9.            Find a money buddy

Have a friend who also struggles with saving money? Take this venture together! It's easier to build a new habit when you have someone to keep you accountable.

10.          Stop buying things just because they’re on sale.

That coat you've been eyeing for months is 50% off and winter is right around the corner... you just must buy it. Right?

Not necessarily.

Do you already have a perfectly practical winter coat? Just because something is on sale doesn't mean you're saving yourself money by purchasing it. I mean, you'd be saving more by not buying it at all.

This is the hardest part about staying in budget. Advertisements are crafted to make you think you need things you don't. Be aware of their influence over you!

11.          Save for something specific.

Going on a vacation that you've financed yourself or saving up to buy a big-ticket item you've been wanting for a while is not only satisfying, but it gets you into the habit of saving.

Here's how I like to think about it: "I could spend this $15 on a meal at Honeygrow right now...or I can put that money away for a meal when I'm on vacation next year."

Even though you'll be eventually spending this money, it will help you build effective saving habits.

12.          If you can, start paying toward the interest on your loans now.

If you have a job that pays enough for you to make extra savings, consider putting some of that toward any loans you might have. Interest SUCKS. $10 here and $20 there might not seem like a lot now, but that's money future, potentially struggling you doesn't have to worry about.

13.          Get out of the “I’m a poor college kid” mental state.

I've found that a lot of people my age uses their student status as an excuse to justify spending money extravagantly. They complain about being poor when the truth is, they just don't want to or don't know how to spend their money wisely.

Sure, a lot of students really do live in poverty and it doesn't matter how they budget their money; they just can't make enough to scrape by. That's the poverty cycle at work

If you're in a place where you do make enough money to live and then some, please don't take advantage of that privilege. Do your future self a favor and build healthy spending habits now.

14.          Ignorant bliss is a bad idea in terms of your financial status. 

Accumulating thousands in debt? Have a shitty credit score? 5 credit cards with balances that you have no idea how you'll pay before you're 30? None of that feels good but knowing your financial status inside and out is the only way you can start to work towards financial stability. Refusing to accept it and figure out solutions as soon as possible will do nothing but hurt you in the long run.

15.          Find easy side hustles that take advantage of your talents and things you already do. 

Enjoy biking? Instead of just doing it for fun, bike for Uber Eats, Grub Hub, or another food delivery service. Love dogs but can't afford to have your own? Walk for Wag and make some extra cash. Anything that puts a few extra dollars in your bank account is a step in the right direction!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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