10 Simple Steps to Better Financial Health for College Students
Stressed about making rent this month? Bummed that you’re always asking friends to cover for you on a night out? Feeling like you only call home when you’re in trouble?
College life is stressful enough without having to worry about managing your money. You likely don’t have time to work a full-time job, but you also have a new responsibility to cover housing, food, clothes, transportation—and hopefully have some fun too!
Money is one of those things that only gets better if you pay it some extra attention. So here are ten simple ways to give your bank account a little love, let go of the guilt, and build up financial confidence.
1. Don’t Spend More than You Make
The first principle of a healthy financial life is not to spend more than you have coming in. Of course, that can be difficult if your classes take up most of your time and you can’t work many hours. The rest of the tips will help you creatively stretch what you make further!
2. Get Friendly with Your Budget
Budgets can leave a bad taste in your mouth—more rules, more restrictions? But budgets are actually like a great friend. They care more about your long term happiness and help you check yourself before you wreck yourself. So create a realistic budget, give yourself some fun money each month, save a bit, and review your budget often!
Which leads us to...
3. Use Apps to Track Finances
You don’t have to program a spreadsheet to watch your money closely. With apps like Kora (hey, that's us!), you can link your bank accounts and watch them hit your budgets in real-time!
Kora’s money tools—created with input from college students—keep track of all your spending, and create personalized reports for you. Our Insights feature even alerts you to any large transactions or when your bank balance gets low.
Want to keep an eye on your credit score? Credit Karma and many banks offer credit monitoring for free.
4. Build Credit… Responsibly
If you're a human, you need good credit. (Womp womp.) And truly, your credit score touches almost every aspect of your adult, professional life. So start building up your score while you're still a college student, so it's there when you're ready to take out an apartment lease on your own, clear a background check for a big career move, or to buy a car or house!
Many banks offer student credit cards with lower income requirements and a lower spending limit. It’s also a great way to get cash back and pay less for things you’re already buying!
Did you know: With Kora, you can take out up to $2,000 and pay back over time to help build your credit history, an important contribution to your over-all credit score—all with flexible terms and low rates.
Gentle warning: Beware of the allure of buying things on credit. Pay off the entire amount each month to avoid paying a high interest rate on your purchases and racking up crushing debt.
5. Grocery Shop Right
Cooking most of your meals is a great way to cut down on spending– as long as you don’t waste what you buy. A USDA study revealed that most Americans waste about a pound of food a day! That’s just money down the drain.
Instead, plan and prep a few simple meals you can quickly reheat on the go. Include some fruits and veggies when you can, and keep track of how much you throw out to adjust for the next shop.
6. Open a Savings Account
It may seem like a checking account is all you need, especially since savings accounts don’t pay much interest right now. But just by opening a savings account, you’re much more likely to spend less. And, the federal reserve rate just went up—meaning that savings accounts could start earning more interest very soon.
7. Have a Plan to Pay Off Your Debt
Debt is common for students, especially when it comes to student loans. Car payments and credit card balances might be cutting into your cash too. While it’s often unavoidable to have some debt, be sure to have a plan to pay off your balance. Even if your debt repayment schedule is years into the future, it will help you keep a long-term perspective and avoid taking out too much money.
8. Invest a Penny at a Time
You don't need much extra money to start investing in your future. Apps like RobinHood or Acorns make it easy for you to round your purchases to the next dollar and invest in various stock options. You may be surprised by the nest egg you create when you regularly put small amounts away.
9. Take Advantage of Student Discount Pricing
Many businesses, restaurants, and transportation providers offer lower prices for college students. Do some Googling before going out to see if you can take advantage of a discount. You may be surprised that you’ve been paying full price for things you don’t need to!
10. Get Good Grades
Finally, getting good grades is a job by itself. There are so many scholarship programs out there, from general funds to highly specific niche scholarships with little competition. Scholarships don’t have to just go towards tuition either—the extra balance often passes on to you for housing costs or other needs!
Are you in college and trying to get a handle on your finances? You’re not alone! At Kora, we take the time to keep you updated on tips, tricks, and trends in finance. So subscribe to our blog to stay in the loop!
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