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How do college students manage money?

Food, accommodation, books, nights out…You’ll be amazed at how quickly it all adds up once you enter university, especially when you’re just getting used to the student lifestyle and thrifty your money for the first time. 

You may not have money problems or issues as a new college student, but most college students soon do. It makes no difference whether you’re a “typical” college student who started right after high school or a “nontraditional” student who is returning to school. It’s not easy for students to manage their finances. Almost one-fifth of students (18%) said that money issues have affected their mental health or wellbeing.

Why Students Face Money Problems

For several reasons, younger students are more likely to face financial problems:

  • You will have additional expenses like tuition and fees, room and board or housing and food bills, books and supplies, and so on.
  • If this is your first time living away from home, you may have a lack of experience in creating and sticking to a budget, as well as managing money in general.
  • You may have less time to work and earn money because you need more time for studying and other aspects of college life.
  • Even if your family provides financial support, your money is limited, and you’ll need to learn to live on a budget.

How Students Manage their Finances

 Learning how to handle your finances as a student is an important part of financial education and will guide you on the path to a secure financial future.

  1. Start by Thinking about your Financial Goals

Going to college is expensive. College tuition has been rising for decades at almost all colleges and only a small percentage of students are fortunate enough to not have to be concerned with this fact. Even yet, there are things you can do to help frugality your finances and keep costs under control while in college. Start by considering your financial goals. 

Whatever you’ve decided to do in the future, whether it is the job or other activities, your current financial goals must be realistic in order for you to carry out your plan. Thinking about your goals and deciding what actually matters to you is the first step in taking control of your personal finances.

  1. Setting up a Realistic Budget

For college students, this is usually a problem. You start by making a realistic budget and sticking to it. Simply said, a budget is the most effective approach to balance the money that comes in with the money that goes out. Working is the only method for most college students to increase their “money coming in” side of the budget. 

Even if you have financial support from your family, college financial aid, frugal from previous jobs, and other sources, you will need to work if your total resources do not equal the “money going out” side of the budget.

The main point is to avoid taking on debt unless it’s absolutely necessary 

to pay for your education.

  1. Avail Student Discounts

Student discounts are available online and in-store at retail shops, cafes, theatres, restaurants, museums, exhibitions, concerts, and more. You can normally get 10–20% off the original price, you can save some little bit of cash, especially when it comes to birthdays, special occasions, or even a once-in-a-while treat. 

Even if you’ll normally be alerted at the checkout, look for a discount or student price, or ask if you’re unsure.

  1. Spend Less

You have to be aware of what you’re spending in a month. For that follow some tips here: 

  • Take a notebook with you and write down everything you spend for a month. You’ll be able to see your spending patterns and you can create a better budget to get control.
  •  If you have healthy food in your backpack. It’s simple to avoid putting a dollar in a vending machine when you’re hungry on the way to class.
  • Before you go grocery shopping, make a list and stick to it. When you go shopping without a list, you’re more likely to buy all kinds of unnecessary and expensive items that catch your eye in the store.
  • You have to be smart. Shop around, compare prices, and purchase in bulk. It’s frequently enough to take a minute to think before you spend.
  1. Save for the Future

It may seem pointless to think about saving for the future if you’re having trouble just getting by on your current budget.  It’s worth the effort if you can set aside some money each month in a savings account.  An emergency or an unexpected situation can happen at any time. It’s less stressful to have savings to cope with than having to find a loan or run up your credit cards. Money-saving is a good habit and will be helpful in tough times.

  1. College Students Jobs

The number of hours college students work each week varies greatly, ranging from 5 to 10 hours per week to full-time employment and everywhere in between. Make a detailed budget as described before calculating how much you need to work.

Your goal should be to make as much as you require and a little more to save, but first, you must know your requirements. Keep in mind your college goals and keep focused on your studies. Reduce your unnecessary spending so you don’t have to work for many hours that your studies impact.

  1. Avoid Credit Card Debt

If your credit card debt is not limited by your age, your balance will undoubtedly rise. The following are some suggestions to help you avoid getting into credit card debt:

  • Whenever possible, pay in cash. Use your budget as a guide to how much cash to bring. Planning how much you’ll need for the week (lunches, parking meters, snacks, or drinks between classes) and starting the week with that amount from an ATM is an excellent way to proceed.
  • Using a debit card is a better option than a credit card. In most places, a debit card is accepted in the same way as a credit card, so you can use it instead of cash.
  • However, keep in mind that purchases are deducted from your account instantly. When you don’t have enough money in your account to cover an overdraft, don’t use a debit card.
  • Keep a record of a debit card purchase as soon as possible in your checkbook.
  • Use only one credit card at a time. Multiple credit cards make it far too simple to misuse them and lose track of your overall debt.


Almost every student faces a money problem in college life and it can have a negative impact on your academic performance. Money issues are stressful and can keep you from concentrating on your education.

Personal finance management is an important step toward financial freedom and discipline for students today and in the future. If you’re a student and you have problems with money-saving and managing your finances then speak to your parents, friends, or close ones for seeking guidance on how to effectively manage your limited financial resources.

Author: Sim K


Sim K


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