Getting money is essential. Learning how to manage money as a student is equally important.
To function in college as a student properly, you need to develop proper money management skills. Even better is finding ways to earn more money without affecting your academic pursuit.
In this article, we explore seven tips for money management for students. These tips are tried and proven and will help you as you strive to create a balance between your finances and your discipline.
Our top 7 money management tips for students
> A budget is necessary
You’ve likely heard about the importance of a budget before. That’s good.
Now, do you have a budget you follow? Something to keep your expenses in check and properly balanced?
Your ability to set up correct budgets and financial goals as a student is an essential life skill.
From rent to class supplies, phone bills to public transport costs, toiletries to foods, and much more, a budget gives you an idea of what would be leaving your pockets at least each month. It makes life more comfortable and makes you a disciplined spender — even in college.
One good way you could set up your budget is to list all your expenses in a month. Which projects or activities do you think will require a good chunk of your money? List them out as you would do for a grocery list.
The next step you should follow is to separate your present cash into each item on your list.
That way, when you begin spending on a particular thing, you already know how much it has and knows enough not to exceed that amount.
The good thing about budgeting as a student is, it not only teaches you financial discipline (since you must be disciplined to make it work), you also understand your money personality: a spender, or an amasser, etc.
Related article: How to organize and succeed as a student
> Find ways to track your expenses
A budget is great, but sometimes things happen that make you go above the set spending limit. You either get into more than you planned for, or you have about with indiscipline regarding your finances.
Whichever the case, you can always try again. And one way you can do this is by using ready-made tools that help you track your expenses.
Some budgeting apps like:
– PocketGuard, and
will help you to take notes of your expenses properly. For most of them, all you need to do is type in the specific expense into the available category or a custom category and let it do the sum and keep records.
Why is this necessary for managing your money as a student? Simple. It helps you make better purchase decisions and make better budgets.
For example, if you had set $350 for your food supplies in the previous month, and you find yourself exceeding that limit, it makes sense to increase it to a new, more accommodating figure.
Some of these expense tracking tools are free to use. For others, you’ll have to pay a certain amount to get access to their premium features like cloud storage or more (freemium apps).
> Start working towards an emergency fund
An emergency fund is to your financial life what a fire extinguisher is to a building. It makes sense to have it for the worst days of financial “fire and brimstone.”
Emergency funds give you safety when you find yourself in a financial quagmire. Little wonder financial experts advise it.
If you want to properly manage your money as a student, creating an emergency fund where you save some small percentage of your money will keep you from debt if life situations get nasty.
Most experts recommend keeping aside 10% of whatever you earn after taxes.
If you’re still wondering whether this applies to you as a student, of course, it does. You never know what life may toss in your court. Sometimes it’s not a ball but a bomb.
To make saving for emergency funds easier, you may register for a reputable and certified financial service that removes a specific amount from your bank account per interval automatically. This takes away any friction that may arise from manually deducting the amount yourself (as you know, it’s hard to let go of money when you are not buying a new item).
Google Budget is one recommended app for building your funds. However, it is not the ultimate choice. Look at different financial services in your region (or country) and choose the one you can quickly access.
Google doesn’t have to know everything about you.
> What’s your debt repayment plan?
For student loans, immediately after college, you are expected to start with payments. What that means is, you need a plan before you finish your schooling.
Basically, if you are caught up in a student loan, it makes sense to have a repayment plan even when in college.
In fact, any significant debt you find yourself in requires a repayment plan from credit card debts to personal loans from friends, relatives, or colleagues.
What you should do first is to find tools that help you prepare a debt repayment plan. One resource you could try for student loans is this student loan calculator from nerdwallet.com.
Here’s another standard guide for creating a repayment plan from debt.com.
Afterward, work towards your debt repayment with vigor and discipline. Financial freedom gives a priceless feeling.
Keep that in mind.
> Start building your investment portfolio
Investing can be best summarized using a famous maxim: the earlier, the better.
You’ve likely heard about investing in stocks, and bonds, and mutual funds and how they would pay you in the long term.
Investing is generally a passive form of earning since you only get to put in your money and let the market do the work while leaving you more time to focus on your school.
The idea is small investments made today will give massive results tomorrow. If traditional investing does not suit your personality, then you may go ahead with other options like crypto IF:
– it is acceptable in your place of residence
– if you are alright with the risks involved
(Generally, all investments come with risk. Do your due diligence before making a forward move).
> Work at a part-time job
Besides the opportunity to know what it takes to apply for jobs in the real world and what is required to get accepted, working part-time also helps you pay your bills.
Having a good college job that doesn’t interfere with your academic schedule will pay you in gold and help you build better budgets and live without the pain of not knowing how to provide for your needs, which leads to debt.
Some good companies pay students, tuition allowance, and small employee benefits if you can find them. Working for your own money allows you to spend, save, and invest without worry.
However, try not to let this interfere with your academic activities. A good source of income is encouraged if it doesn’t negatively affect your primary goal for schooling — a degree.
Also, why not check out these tips to fund college education from scholarships.
> Look for passive income opportunities
One of the best ways to earn on and off-campus is passive. Finding passive income opportunities will pay you in coin and give you enough time to do what is most important without getting stressed.
Passive opportunities like an affiliate marketing side gig, stock photography sale, or even domain resale can help you grow your money.
One thing to note is, passive income sources usually need a large amount of time, commitment, and investment at the early stages. You can take time off to set up your passive income source during a holiday or school break and work on it for small amounts of time during school sessions.
For passive income sources like stock photography sales, you can do this anytime, whether on or off school periods.
Having an extra $250 – $500 monthly from a passive source sounds good, right? It’s why it appears on this list. And even after graduating, you could also work on growing this source of income to its full potential.
Earning money in college and correctly managing money are two sides of the same coin. When you budget or plan your expenses before they happen, it helps you know what to expect and prepare for the unexpected.
You must bear in mind that earning money, whether passively or otherwise, must not impact your academic pursuit.
Create a balance between managing your money as a student and getting excellent grades towards your degree. It will require proper time management, discipline, planning and scheduling to make this work — nothing a determined heart can’t do.
Here’s where we close the curtains to this article. Enjoy your student-hood!
You can also check out these 9 smart ways to make some money as a student.