It may not be the worst nightmare of a college student, but it ranks right up there – running out of money before the school year ends.
If you’re in college, you probably know what we’re talking about. And right behind that nightmare is the one where you have to text or call your parents begging for cash, and then suffer through the lecture of “not saving enough for school” before they spring you out of financial purgatory.
Fortunately for you, there are some options that can help ease the money crunch, and help you pave the way for a lifetime of smart saving:
- Select a savings account that suits you best. Things to look for in an account include one that has few or no fees and also has competitive interest rates. Many financial institutions have accounts tailored to college students. Look for them online or ask friends and other students for recommendations. Another option is to select a savings account at an online bank. Many online banks offer higher interest rates than their traditional brick and mortar counterparts, so your savings can pile up faster. Bank5 Connect offers a High-Interest Savings Account that allows you to earn a competitive interest rate with just a $100 minimum balance.
- Look for a part-time job on or off campus. It can help fill in those financial gaps that you might experience, and give you more money to squirrel away in your savings account.
- Don’t be an impulsive buyer. Think it through before you make any purchases. You’re going to be an obvious target for retailers in college towns who will try to draw you in with special “student sales.” But unless you really need something, don’t even think about browsing. You want to avoid shelling out money you don’t have for something that really isn’t necessary.
- Take advantage of student discounts. Restaurants typically offer them, as do student bookstores. A 15% discount here, and a 10% discount there can really add up, so don’t be shy about asking if a retailer offers them.
- Don’t avoid budgeting. It may sound scary, but a budget will end up becoming your best financial friend. It’s important to know what your income and expenses are on a regular basis so you don’t end up overspending and digging yourself a giant hole of debt.
- Don’t get sucked in by credit card offers “exclusively” for college students. You might be flattered by the special attention, but avoid falling into that trap. If you can stay away from racking up credit card bills, do so. And if you do decide you need one, be sure you know exactly what you’re getting into, including what happens when the low introductory interest rate goes away. Plus, plan on paying off your entire credit card balance every month so interest charges don’t start to pile up.
- Live frugally. This could mean cutting out daily trips to the coffee shop or reducing the number of times you’re heading out to bars and restaurants each week. You’ll be surprised (and proud of) just how much you can save by living within your means.
Getting ahead of the class with your saving skills will not only benefit you as a college student, but it will prepare you for your financial future as well. Once you graduate, you’ll likely be on your own with managing your finances, so getting a head start on smart budgeting and saving now can save you some headaches and tough lessons down the road.