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Money certainly makes the world go ‘round, and we all need to be mindful of how much we have and where it’s going. This is especially true for college students. College expenses can be high with tuition, books, room and board, rent, gas, beer money, movie rentals, etc. Effective money management is made easier with these tips.
First, track your spending for two to four weeks to find out where your money is going. Is four trips to Starbucks a week really necessary? You probably don’t realize how much money you spend on little things like snacks and poker antes. Often, just by tracking expenses, you’ll start to curb your expenses and spend your money wisely.
The best way to manage your money over the course of a semester is to sit down and map out a budget. List sources of income such as scholarships, loans, money from summer jobs, and cash from your parents. Then list your expenses, such as tuition, books and groceries. If your income is larger than your outgo, you’re on the right track!
If you know you need to buy a new CD or go to concert or a party every week, make room for that in your budget. You do need some entertainment. You’ll get burned out if you don’t have any fun. But be mindful of your entertainment expenses so that they don’t get out of hand.
If you spend, spend, spend at the beginning of the semester, you could be tapped out later. Give yourself a spending limit for each week. Stick to it and you won't have to eat macaroni-and-cheese every day in December.
Be careful with credit card use. Having a credit card is a good idea in case of emergencies, but having that little piece of plastic can make your spending get way out of control, very, very quick. One quick way to spend beyond your means is to charge it. Use credit cards sparingly. Once you get into the habit of reaching for a Visa, it can be hard to stop.
Keep only one credit card. You’ll probably be barraged with offers from credit card companies wanting to give you a $5,000 credit limit at only 25% interest to celebrate your induction into the “real world”. Find a card with a low interest rate and use it as little as possible. And don’t charge small purchases! If you need a bag of chips, search the couch cushions for spare change before you plunk down the Master Card. You don’t want to be paying interest on a bag of chips!
You can set your own credit limit instead of letting the credit card company set it for you. Just because you have a credit card with a $2,000 credit line doesn't mean you have to spend $2,000. If you know you can only pay back $500, then just spend that.
If you’re afraid you'll keep spending as long as there's room on the card? Call your credit card company and request your credit limit be lowered. Keep at it. Card companies will try boost up your credit lines so you spend more. Tell them "no" each time they try.
Be realistic about your spending habits. You can do what you want, but you can't do everything you want. You're going to have to make some choices. Whatever you choose is going to cost some money. You need to understand you can't have everything and you have to understand there's consequences. At some point there needs to be a reality check in terms of what things cost. Most students have no idea.