While college is a time known for instant ramen noodle budgets and a not-so-stable financial status, that doesn’t mean you can’t be disciplined in finances. In fact, college is an excellent time to start building your financial management skills! For most students, this is the first time being independent from their parents and that often means financial independence. Learning to create budgets, spend wisely, and save are all simple steps toward financial growth out on your own.
Oftentimes, college students are given a “pass” on financial stability considering their employment status (not usually full time). Poor college students are even commonly at the brunt of jokes and memes. Although funny, that doesn’t have to be reality!
North Central University is committed to offering resources and tools to help their students become well rounded, not just in the area of spiritual life and academics. So every year, our student program Enactus hosts a “Financial Bootcamp” to help students learn how to get an early edge on their financial situation.
Here are some useful tips, tricks, and resources that we took away that can help you get ahead on your finances while you’re still in college:
How to get a financial edge while you’re still in college
Budgeting while in college
It’s not a secret that funds are low when you’re a full-time student. So there is nothing wrong with needing to follow a budget. You can get yourself into a lot of trouble in you are spending more than you are bringing in every week.
Taking into account how much money you have every month and then allocating it to your expenses, needs and wants every month will help you take control of your financial status and goals. Using apps like Mint are helpful (and free) in the budgeting process.
Income – Expenses = Cash Flow
Income – Expenses = Cash Flow. This equation is a simple tool and guideline in planning out your budget. It helps you see how much money you are making and spending every month. Anything that is leftover can be put towards savings, investing, or going to Taco Bell at 2 a.m. with your friends.
One of the best ways to learn about finances while in college is just to read books about money! Depending on what your financial goals are, you can find most any book that will be a helpful resource in giving you practical advice when it comes to finances.
Harry S. Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Picking up a book is a practical and easy way to learn. Some good options for books that talk about finances specifically are, “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey or “Everyday Millionaire” by Chris Hogan.
Look to the bible
The Bible talks about money many times and puts an emphasis on the fact that we are supposed to be good stewards in not only our finances, but just in our everyday lives. The parable of the talents is a popular teaching in the church, and for good reason! It teaches us how to be obedient in our finances and what faithfulness looks like in our financial habits.
Learn from someone
Don’t take advise from people who are not good at managing their finances. Take financial advise from people are always trying to make the right financial moves for themselves.
That doesn’t mean you have to find someone who makes a lot of money, just someone who is wise about how they spend their income. Parents, grandparents, or professors can be really great resources and also easily accessible. You’re probably not ready to hire a financial planner when you’re in college, but there are plenty of people in your life who are willing and available to help you get started on the right foot.
Track your spending habits
The best way to know how to move forward with your money is to look to the past at your spending habits, common expenses, etc. Look back at the last month of your financial history and measure it in relation to your financial goals. Ask yourself these questions:
- Can you achieve your goals with the way you have been spending money?
- What are things you can cut back on in your budget?
- What are things you spent money on but didn’t budget for?
Finances are not talked about nearly as often as they should be, but they are a necessary part of life. Being a college student doesn’t mean that you can’t get your finances in order and make good choices when it comes to how you spend your money.
Start tracking your college finances
Get the financial edge by tracking your expenses and spending with this free College Finances Worksheet!