Amanda Hollman, assistant opinions editor, @HollmanAmanda
Students have so much to balance in their lives. They have friends, classes, homework, tests, dating, the basic necessities of eating and sleeping, and many more, all encompassed by needing to keep their finances stable. Unless your parents were good at teaching you how to manage money, you are probably learning as you go. That self-learning can be detrimental, so here are some tips to keep you on the safe side of the money game.
1. Be careful with credit cards
Students often get tempted by the convenience of credit cards. You can buy something when you want it rather than waiting to save the money, but that can be very dangerous if used incorrectly. Find a credit card that gives you the best deal, one with a low interest rate. Use it just like you would your debit card. If you do not have money in your account then do not buy it. If you do, pay it off right away so you do not have a balance. Using a credit card wisely will build credit for you and can help you in the future when you are buying a house or other good debt. So be smart with your credit card.
2. Borrow only what you need
Let’s face it: many of us have to go into debt for school. We do all we can to get scholarships or grants, even paying some of the cost out of pocket, but that does not always cover everything. Getting student loans is not bad, but do not let the thought of “free money” rope you into something that you will regret later. Look first at the subsidized loan that is available to you. That is the one that will not charge you interest until after you graduate. If you do not need all that is offered, ask for less. If that amount is not enough to cover all your expenses, there is an unsubsidized loan available, though this will start charging interest as soon as you borrow it. Keep in mind that whatever amount you decide you need to use from the loans, it will come in two payments, half for each semester.
3. Use your student ID card wherever you can
There are so many places you can get free or discounted stuff just for being a student. All you have to do is some research and figure out which places offer a deal. You can also just ask places if they have a student discount. There are discounted movie tickets, gym memberships, better bank account rates, car maintenance, computer software, sports events, Amazon and plenty of other options to choose from. Check out what being a student can get you!
4. Budget, budget, budget!
Last, but certainly not least, is budgeting. It is one of the most important financial tips that you can find. It can also be one of the hardest to keep up with. The first step is to figure out what all of your expenses are, and how much you spend on each. That includes gas, rent, food, Netflix, etc. Then see what organizational method is best for you. Technology makes it really easy to do. You can set up an Excel spreadsheet, a budgeting app on your portable device, or a money managing website, like mint.com. Once you have your budget set up, just stick to it. Only spend what you have allotted for each category of expenses and record each transaction so you can keep track of it. If you have the funds, you can even set up a “fun money” category so that you have a little wiggle room.
Have more tips to share? We would love to hear them and publish them in coming issues of the UVU Review: firstname.lastname@example.org