When it comes to surviving life as a college student, one of the first things you’ll have to learn is how to prioritize your finances. Being away from home for the first time brings its fair share of temptations; parties, social events, and joining clubs and organizations all involve spending money.
If you truly want to make the most out of your college experience, you must learn how to live frugally and also learn how to work while studying. College is not just about going to class and passing all of your tests; it is also a period of time in which you learn how to be truly independent and prepare yourself for life on your own.
Managing your money responsibly is a big factor in gaining that independence. You may not be making enough to support yourself quite yet, but by following these easy tips you can make sure that you live within your means and still enjoy life as a university student.
1. Go get a job
This is probably a pretty obvious step in stabilizing your monetary situation. After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. You will need money for books, supplies, extracurricular activities, social engagements and day-to-day living.
Unless you have a wealthy benefactor or parents willing to foot your entire monthly bill, it’s probably a good idea to have regular cash inflow.
Not only will this help you pay for expenses, but it will also help you develop a good work ethic. College is very different from high school. You are not usually in class from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. every day. You will generally have 12 to 15 hours of classes each week, giving you plenty of free time to take a job and still have time to study and relax.
2. Take advantage of resources available to you
There are countless organizations at K-State that will help you get your financial situation in order. From Powercat Financial Counseling, an organization designed to help students organize daily costs and tuition repayment plans, to Career and Employment Services, which can help you find a job, the university has a multitude of free financial services available to students.
You don’t have to know everything about money. In fact, it’s OK if you don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to budgeting and money management. But by doing a little research, it’s easy to find on-campus resources that will provide you with free guidance.
3. Keep unnecessary spending to a minimum
When you come to college, you are going to enter a world with a million different activities and opportunities to get involved in your community.
While jumping in and getting involved is important to your experience, it also leads to you spending more money. Make sure that you balance your activities with the amount of money that you spend.
Just because your dorm floor or your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters go out to eat every Tuesday doesn’t mean that you have to go every week. Just because your friends joined five organizations and paid dues for all of them doesn’t mean you have to as well. Your financial situation is unique to you, so remember to act according only to what you can afford.
The biggest components of living life on your own are discipline and self-control. There are going to be countless distractions that will tempt you to break your budget, but you must remember how much you have and what you can truly afford to spend.
Making your college experience memorable can be achieved by staying within your means and exercising self-control.
Andy Rao is a senior in accounting and finance. Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.