College is an amazing learning experience, what you learn through your teachers and textbooks are only just the beginning. College is a place where many learn the roles of independence and adulthood. When people think about responsibility and independence money is usually the first thing that comes to mind. How to properly manage money is a lesson that even grown-ups are continually learning.
Check out these tips on how to manage your expenses and responsibilities so you can spend more time focusing on school and less time worrying about finances.
Costs of college
College tuition varies depending on the level of the university, some Ivy league schools can cost upwards of 40,00 a semester and others can range from 5,000.00-7,000.00 per semester. Some other common college expenses include parking permits, textbooks, computer, items specific to your major such as musical equipment if you are a music major, art supplies for the art major, high end calculator for the math major etc. and of course notebooks, pens and other items that will help you be successful.
You will also need to factor all of the expenses outside of the college walls; rent, utilities, food, insurance, car payments, and entertainment to name a few. Learning to budget and manage money is one of the most important lessons you will learn in college and in life.
Budgeting your Money while in College
As a student, there are different ways to budget your money in college:
Make Most of the Discounts
There will be discounts available to you as a college student. Carry your student ID with you always. Usually, a student discount is offered where a military discount is offered. With your student ID, you will hardly pay the full price of anything you are buying.
Discounts are offered in restaurants, clothing stores, electronic stores, music concerts and public transportation. Look around and take advantage of the businesses offering student discounts.
Cut back on major expenses.
Use public transportation or a bicycle as your primary source of transportation. You will save money on gas, insurance and repairs in addition to a car note. Find ways to reduce your electric bill. Utilities can be a significant expense. On days with pleasant weather you can open your window and turn off the air conditioning or use natural light which can help you save on your CT energy bill
Cook your way to financial freedom
Food is an area where you can spend a substantial amount of money, or save a lot of money. You might be surprised how much money you can save by cooking a few meals at home. Not only will you be learning a crucial life skill but cooking is beneficial for your physical health and your bank account. When you go to the grocery store ensure to follow certain tips to be a better shopper so you do not overspend. When you need a break from the kitchen look for places that offer deals or student discounts.
Paying for College
There are many ways that people pay for college from financial aid, scholarships, loans and grants. It is important to get a head start on the financial planning when it comes to college because the scholarships and grants are limited. The most common way that people pay for college is through loans and federal Pell grants. Before accepting loans it is important to do your research to learn about the different types of loans; for instance what is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans
While the budgeting tips can help you get through college it is a gift that keeps on giving because those lessons of learning to better manage your money can help you once you graudate and the repayment begins.
George is the CEO of Expat Group Limited, based in Hong Kong.