Graduating from high school and moving off to college is one of the biggest steps a young person will take in their life. Although it can be a scary and challenging time, it is also one of the most fun and exciting times in a teenager’s life. With graduation right around the corner, high school seniors are getting ready to move off to college and start their life as an independent student with responsibilities. These responsibilities include things like doing their own laundry, keeping up with personal items, having a part time job, buying groceries and some might have to start paying their own bills. Some of these responsibilities can often bring up the topic of students learning to budget their funds in order to make it through each semester. Whether the funds come from a part time job or parents giving students allowances weekly/monthly, having some advice and tips will help students manage their money for present and future purchases. Here are a few tips to help manage your finances while in college:
- Budgeting: As many look back at their college years, many wish they had taken the time to set a budget for purchases such as gas, groceries, clothing and dining out with friends. I know I could have saved money if I had been given advice on designating funds to certain purchases during the week. One tip in budgeting would be to write down what you will need for the week/month. Will you be going to the grocery store, how much gas is in your car, which friend has a birthday this week that you know you will have to go out to dinner to celebrate. As you list these, write out to the side an amount you would like to designate for each event and subtract from your current balance of cash on hand. Any extra that you have left over could be put into a savings account to be used for emergencies or added to your balance for the next week. Seeing these items listed out on paper will help you better understand where your money will go. Also, this will keep you from having to work that extra shift at work or asking family or friends for that extra $20 to get you through the rest of week. Keeping a register or journal of your purchases will also help you sort out what to budget for each item every month that you write out a budget.
- Saving while dining out/grocery shopping: Most college students live for Taco Tuesday, $2 sushi night and half priced shakes. Eating out during these kind of discount days will help save you some extra cash to put towards other purchases. Also many restaurants near colleges offer a student discount if you show your school ID. Shopping the weekly ads at grocery stores will allow you to stock up on your favorites like ramen noodles or frozen pizzas for nights when studying is all you have time for.
- Creating a goal to save: You don’t have to have tons of cash in order to start saving. Starting small can lead to big savings in the future. Adding to a savings with what you have in excess each week will help you plan for emergencies. Saving money also comes in handy when you are wanting to plan that big spring break trip to help get away from all the stress of studying for finals. If you set aside a certain amount each month, then you will have a lump sum you can use towards a bigger reward. Retirement may seem way out of reach to you right now but this is a goal to also start thinking about when you do land your dream job and receive your first big pay check. “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”- Warren Buffet.
- Using credit cards wisely: Credit cards will have advantages and disadvantages but having a few tips to go by will help you not get caught up in a big snowball effect of payments and interest. They are not an unlimited supply of funds and you will have to pay them back in the future. Keeping your credit card balance at 30% or below your card limit may help with building a better credit score. Paying more than the minimum payment will help keep the amount of interest you pay lower in the long run. Be aware of when payments are due so that you will not miss a payment. Late payments can cause big late fee payments making your monthly payment harder to pay when you have only budgeted a certain amount for that month. And if not paid on time, these missed payments will affect your credit score in a negative way.
- Building your credit report: One positive impact credit cards can have on your life, when they are used appropriately, is that you will start building your credit history. By making monthly payments on time, you are building your credit score. Credit reports are important in life when you are ready to start planning for purchases such as a new car, house or paying off any college expenses accumulated throughout the years.
Queensborough National Bank and Trust is a bank that is devoted to helping our customers of any age. We offer guidance and advice to help you have the best banking and financial experience.
Leah Davis, Queensborough Customer Service Representative