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Student Success Tips: Managing Your Money

Congrats! You’re a college student and well on your way to a new and lucrative career in…well, whatever you set your mind to doing. But, there are a few things that could stand in the way of your future success. We’ve all heard stories about a night of drinking and…I’ll let your imagination run that one out. There are a great many things that could derail your college success, but Money, and the Management thereof, is the #1 most important thing you can tackle to ensure your success. And, the skills you’ll learn will be with you your entire life.

Here are some quick tips to start you down the right path.

1.     Figure out what you want to do…and quickly.

I can tell you from experience that an extra year due to program changes can cost you a lot of heartache in the long run. Some easy ways to find out what you like? Try volunteering, joining clubs and study groups. You basically need to try new things and see if they ‘fit’ your passions in life. And, with the cost of a year of college slowly entering the stratosphere, the cost can be unimaginable.

2.     Learn to be Frugal.

Do you really need to eat out? Can you get the same ingredients at the local Costco for $20 spot…and then eat all week? If you don’t have to pay for everything under the sun, don’t. Take advantage of campus activities…like movies, lectures and clubs…they’re all free. (For the most part.)

3.     Learn to budget.

Most colleges offer free classes on the basics of budgeting and how to ‘get it right.’ You should be planning ahead to meet your bills and still have a couple bucks left over.

4.     Pay Attention to Tuition.

As a returning college student, I can tell you about the good old days: “Why, sonny, when I was your age I was paying a nickel for each class.” While it wasn’t quite that cheap, I was paying less than $500 for my quarter at community college just 15 years ago. What are some ways to save on Tuition? Good Question: We mentioned figuring out your major…and quickly. That’ll save you cash. Also, for you 4-year university students, you can take summer classes at the local community college and then transfer them back to your college…at about 1/3 of the price.

Also, you can apply for jobs on campus. Some colleges offer tuition assistance to students working for the university.

5.     Sell your car.

That’s right. No wheels…well, maybe only bicycle wheels. The cost of maintaining a car, insurance, parking on campus…on and on…those all add up. Bike, walk or take the local bus and save a ton.

6.     Textbooks.

Textbooks can cost a small fortune for a struggling college student. But, you do have options! First, always check pricing well before class starts. Cross-reference the big sites with options from both your College Book Store and the Textbook Manufacturer. Another good habit is to visit your college bookstore in the week(s) between terms. They generally have their used textbooks available during this time…but they quickly get sold when class starts. You could also get a non-traditional textbook. For instance, I like to buy ‘loose-leaf’ editions from my McGraw-Hill. They’re essentially a notebook ready ‘page only’ version of your book…but still have everything you need and they save you $$.

Another non-traditional textbook is the e-book. This version lives up to its name: It’s an online-only version of the text.

Each of these options, Used, Loose-Leaf and Virtual, have something in common: They’re cheaper. With a little planning, you can pick up a cheaper version and save your cash for other things…like buying food.

There you go! Now you have some quick tips to help you start saving money and budgeting for success.