It’s a common assumption that college students are awfully bad at personal finance. Many of the students think they are too young to focus on managing their finances. But in reality, it’s never too early to start managing money to prepare for a financially secure life. Take a look at the following pointers which show you how to manage finances better.
Frugal lifestyle: Key to your financial health
If you are serious about managing your money, you need to maintain a frugal lifestyle. Frugal living is not about a life of deprivation; rather it is about living your life sensibly. Check out how to live a frugal life on campus:
- Go online to shop for books: Textbooks are an absolute necessity for a student. It does not make much sense to buy books from campus bookstore at full retail price. You should rather go online and buy books from major retailers like Amazon.com, etc., at reasonable discounts.
- Restrict your budget on food: Do not waste your money eating out with friends. The cafeteria offers you nutritious food at an affordable price. So, you can have as many meals in the cafeteria as possible. You can even prepare your own food. But given the hassle it involves, eating in the cafeteria is no doubt a better option.
- Use student loans only for education: You must avoid using student loan funds for personal use. These loans are strictly meant for education and should be used for the same, and nothing else. Thus, using the funds for entertainment, night-outs, parties or even food is a mistake you ought to avoid.
Credit card debts: Do not mess with them!
Credit cards are helpful only when you use them sensibly. But if you make rampant purchases with credit cards and do not pay your bills on time, you can end up in a financial mess. Find out how you can avoid being in credit card mess:
- Read the fine print: You must read the fine print before accepting any credit card offer. Check out how long the teaser rate will be in effect, what will happen to the interest rate if you miss a payment, etc. You must know what you’re getting into before you sign up for a card.
- Minimize use of credit cards: You should avoid using credit cards as much as possible. Try to use debit cards, which are directly related to your checking account. With a debit card, you can never spend more than what you have in your account.
- Control your impulses: There are lots of things in the store that are damn good but don’t fit your budget. You have to make a choice here. You can either give the idea of buying items that doesn’t fit your budget or you may buy them with credit cards. The first option will help you to avoid credit card debts whereas the other option will only make you invite financial trouble in your life. The choice is yours.
- Watch out for card with low rate: Check out the interest rate you need to pay on a credit card. The higher the interest rate, the more you have to pay every month. Try to obtain a credit card with ‘low’ interest rate. Avoid cards that come with “low” teaser rate. Always remember, an unexpected rate hike can cost you dearly. You may get stuck with an expensive credit card all of a sudden.
- Set up payment alerts: If you’re net savvy and manage credit cards online, then make sure you set up email alerts to remember the payment dates. Several credit card companies offer email alert option to consumers wherein they can know about the next payment date. This will help you avoid missing payments and paying late fees.
It’s noteworthy that the Credit Card Act (2010) aims to protect young students from falling into debt traps. As per the law, consumers under the age of 21 will now have to either show their own financial ability or get signature of a co-signer (21 yrs or older) to get a card. However, this may encourage students to look for alternatives like payday loans which are even more dangerous.
Savings: A must for financial security
Another important aspect of student personal finance is saving money for future. Open a checking and a savings account. Keep track of them so you do not get charged any unnecessary overdraft or banking fees. Make sure you can take help of online banking to pay your bills or monitor the accounts. Make savings a habit. Take up a part-time job or even a holiday job to pay for your regular expenses and avoid borrowing money. Set a few bucks aside every month for any emergency. If you’re wise and you have the determination to save, managing finances will never be that difficult for you.