Orientation guide: 4 ways to stay financially stable in your first year of college

Marcella Brooks | Collegian Managing your money effectively is key to keeping your independence while in college. Budgeting is one of the most important concepts a student can learn while living away from home for the first time. Students should balance their needs with their wants while looking for ways to bring in money, like getting a job on campus and applying for scholarships.

Coming to college has its perks: more independence, more people to hang out with, more parties and more control of your own life. But, as the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

As you will come to find, one of the most important responsibilities you will have as a college student is learning how to manage your money effectively. For some of you, your parents will still act as a safety net, helping you out when you “accidentally” go through your month’s budget in a week. Others, however, are on their own.

In any case, learning how to budget, save and spend your money is a must for any college student. Budgeting is one of the most important skills you will learn when you start living away from home because all of a sudden, you have all kinds of things going on around you, but only a limited amount of money to spend.

Here are four tips to managing your money as a freshman:

Control your costs; buy what you need and occasionally what you want

College is going to be a great time in your life, and you should enjoy it as such. Soak in all the activities, social events and athletics. Do not, however, break your bank in the process.

It is your responsibility to make sure you have enough money for food, clothing, classes, books and any other necessities before you indulge any other forms of entertainment.

Be sure that you have your bases covered. That is not to say that you cannot enjoy your time here, but there will be times that you will have to control your spending impulses.

Get a job

There are numerous opportunities for student employment, both on and off campus, that could provide you with much-needed pocket money. The top 10 on-campus job providers offer a combined 2,200 jobs that give students flexible hours to accommodate school schedules. Most of the jobs pay minimum wage but offer both a decent paycheck and university experience.

Go out and find employment. Don’t expect your parents or friends to pay for your college experience. Believe me, it is a rewarding feeling to bring home a paycheck and still get an education.

K-State’s Career and Employment Services, housed in Holtz Hall, can help connect students with on- and off-campus jobs. Visit k-state.edu/ces to learn more.

Do not pass up free money for your education

If you can reduce your tuition, you take a huge burden off your shoulders. Although students’ loan payments are usually deferred until graduation, you still have to dig your way out of debt.

There are millions of dollars offered every year in scholarship money that go unclaimed because no one applies for these “free money” awards. Sadly, people lose out. Whether you think your grades are not good enough, it seems like too much work or you just do not qualify, it is always worth it to give scholarships and grants a shot.

Why not start now so that you don’t have to slave away later? As it turns out, a couple hours of work now may save you thousands of dollars later, so do not count this option out.

Find friends who are upperclassmen

Learning from the defeats and triumphs of others can be a very good strategy to succeed in life. This idea can also be applied to learning how to manage your money as a college student. Upperclassmen are students who have been there and done that, and those experiences are valuable knowledge to any college newbie.

They can guide you to find the most cost-effective textbooks, the cheapest hang-outs and can even give you advice about what classes to take so that you get your money’s worth out of your tuition.

Most of the time, people are eager to share their experiences in order to help someone, so do not be shy to ask these seasoned veterans for money management tips.

Andy Rao is a junior in accounting and finance. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.