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How to Manage Money as a College Student

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Piggy banks

By Lily Cooper
Student, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Who else entered college with little-to-nothing in their bank account too? College is that awkward time where we have so much we want to do, some money and bills that drain our account. That’s where money management is the utmost importance.

Dave Ramsey, a famous financial guru, once said:

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”

To gain an understanding and strategy when it comes to your finances early will set you up for success in the future. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Create a budget and stick with it.

I know this sounds boring and something that only your parents do, but having a budget can help you enormously when juggling your finances.

You should list your monthly income sources, including savings, wages and allowances. Then, write down estimated expenses for the month.

Some expenses for a college student may include:

  • Food outside your meal plan
  • Coffee dates and outings with friends
  • School supplies
  • Car insurance
  • Monthly subscriptions
  • Personal care
  • Gas

Consider downloading a finance management app such as Quicken or Mint that can help you create and stick to the budget and keep you accountable.

Make a list of wants and needs.

Do you really need to buy that tank top from Target? Or the latest video game? How much do all your monthly subscriptions cost and is it necessary to always go out for coffee?

When you really look into it and take the time to think about your wants and needs, the easier it is to distinguish them.

Before leaving to go shopping, try making a list and only sticking to what is on that list. Or, choose to not go to Target because you can’t control yourself. Another good idea is to give yourself a weekly cash allowance instead of always having your debit card on hand.

Have a credit card, but don’t abuse it.

While credit cards seem scary, they are essential to establishing credit and boosting your score so you can get a loan from the bank in the future. When you get a credit card, make it a rule to only use it for when you buy gas or a plane ticket home. That way, you can establish credit but not go into debt.

The saying always goes, “Don’t spend what you don’t have.” Therefore, use the credit card only if you have the money in your checking account to pay it off right then and there. You start getting into trouble when you use a credit card as a justification for buying things. It’s not free money and you don’t want to accumulate so much debt that your credit suffers.

Put 20 percent in savings.

For each paycheck you receive, take twenty percent of it and put it into savings. You don’t have to do it for every paycheck because there are instances where you need more money certain times, but try to put money away at least twice a month.

It will add up over time and before you know it you will have a good sized savings account to help you out when you graduate and the student loans start rolling in.

Get a part-time job.

While you should always focus on your studies, having a job in college can provide you with experience, new friends and money to be able to put towards savings and outings with your friends. Having a little extra cash will also help if you face any extra expenses such as a broken-down car or a new computer.

Grand Canyon University has been the gateway to success for countless scholars and industry leaders for over 65 years. To learn about GCU’s degree programs, visit our website or request more information by using the button at the top of this page.

About Lily Cooper
Professional Writing Major, Copywriter for GCU Blogs

Lily Cooper is a senior at Grand Canyon University and currently studying professional writing with a minor in marketing. She aspires to combine her love for writing and editing into a job in the publishing industry. In her free time, you can find her updating her blog, keeping up with her Instagram aesthetic and water coloring in her Bible. She believes that anything can be solved with a Taylor Swift lyric.

Read more about Lily.