Tips for Building a Strong Financial Foundation as a College Student

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Having a healthy financial life requires a lot of planning, whether it’s how you approach debt or savings. These things affect your career, relationships, and everything else in life. Taking a few steps toward a greater degree of stability can give you peace of mind as well. There are a few ways to inform yourself and place yourself in the right frame of mind. Let's check out some tips for building a strong financial foundation as a college student.

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Pay Attention to Credit

Having a good credit score can help you get your first apartment, get a car, and eventually buy a house. Not to mention be your first step to a strong financial foundation. You can keep an eye on your credit score to make sure there isn’t anything suspicious. This helps you prevent identity theft and errors from impacting your score. As you start to manage your financial life more, you might want to look to getting a credit card. Putting expenses on your credit card will help you build your credit score. However, looking at the best student credit cards and selecting the right one is a critical decision, and it is important to pick the right one.

Get a Job While in School

Getting a part time job in college can help you add to your savings account, and it can also help you get better grades and build community. However, if you work too many hours, you could end up burning yourself out and placing too many demands on yourself. Many students find the sweet spot is about 20 hours per week or less. This gives them a chance to get their homework and studying done outside of work hours. If your school offers a work-study program, you may be able to take advantage. Jobs offered in these programs are designed for busy college students, and some may even have down time where you can catch up on your reading for a class. Others offer flexible schedules so you can work around your class schedule.

Look for Discounts Everywhere

While you should make time to spend with family and friends, going out to eat with them all the time can really blow the budget. Instead, look for discounted or free events on campus and in your college town to attend. Try to use the gym offered on campus instead of paying for a separate membership. As a student, you can likely find plenty of discounts as well. Everything from software to movie tickets could be discounted to students. To take advantage, you will typically sign up using your university email address to prove you are a student. In other cases, you will need to present your student ID. Even if you don’t know if a company has a discount offered, it won’t hurt to ask. And don't forget to follow your favorite deal blogger who may post discounts and savings you can partake in.

Live on a Budget

Even though budgets sometimes have negative connotations, they are not that hard to make, and they can help you see exactly where your money is going. If your income fluctuates from month to month, figure out what your income will be for the entire year. This includes amounts from grants, your paycheck, and contributions from your family. This helps you figure out how much you must work with each month so you can determine how much you are able to allocate to each category. Don’t forget to include areas like trips, groceries, and transportation. If there is any left, you can set it aside for your use, whether that’s buying a coffee or taking a trip with your friends.

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Take a Class on How to Manage Your Finances

Your school may already have financial literacy classes in place for you to take advantage of, or you might be able to find classes available in the community. Many are open to students. Taking one of these classes can help you learn how to better manage your money. 

Consider Sharing with Other Students on Campus

Figure out how you can split costs and share with others to reduce the amount of money you need to spend. If you have a friend who’s great at doing hair, you might be able to trade for that service instead of going to a salon or barber in town. If you and your friends have goods you no longer need, you might consider hosting a swap night where you can shop each other’s items. Your campus may have networks to help you take advantage of the sharing economy, or you could start your own.

We hope these tips help you to build a strong financial foundation and help bring you some success as a college student.

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