Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
BTC MONEY?width=719&height=464&fit=crop&auto=webp
BTC MONEY?width=398&height=256&fit=crop&auto=webp
Her Campus Media
Career > Money

Making Money Moves: Essential Tips for College Students

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bucknell chapter.

Being a college student means keeping up with coursework, learning how to live on your own, and spending money on your own. Your early 20s are for making financial mishaps, but you can avoid this by learning how to earn, keep, and build your money. Keeping track of your money is an easy skill to have but not necessarily easy to acquire, which is why I’ve compiled a list of things you can do to get started.

Get (and Keep) a Job

Before you can learn how to save money, you need a steady income. There’s so much to learn, even from jobs like scooping ice cream, being a camp counselor, or working as a barista, that will help you in interviews, internships, and future jobs. This can range from learning to file a tax return, to knowing good work behavior. It helps to show that you can handle the entry paperwork that you’ll always have to deal with for a job. It teaches you to be responsible with your time and understand that others depend on you. Being consistent with a job, especially on campus, is crucial, but if you want to make money, you need to have steady employment. At this point in your life, unless you’re a millionaire, there is no way you can live off a half-year salary, not even for a semester.


It’s easy to think, “I’ll just make the money back anyway,” when purchasing something, but this mindset can lead to a negative spending cycle. Planning and budgeting will help let you indulge in treats and hang out with friends without breaking the bank. By reducing the frequency of these expenditures, you can manage your finances more effectively in the long term.

Watch Your Money

For this, I would suggest starting small and not biting off more than you can chew because it can be confusing and stressful to start monitoring your spending. Make sure you have your banking app downloaded and check it at least once a week, though I would recommend checking it once a day, depending on your spending habits. 

If you’re subscribing to things, there could be pending charges or other financial activities, and if you’re not regularly monitoring your account, you’re at risk for scams, fraud, or even declined transactions. It’s helpful to start by tracking your expenses even though it may seem repetitive and mundane. It makes you more aware of your spending habits and helps you to pause and think before making impulse purchases. This way you can also start budgeting for the future. For example, with summer coming up and you have a job you can budget how much you’ll earn each week as well as any other expected income, and your anticipated expenses such as transportation, food, and travel. Initially, these expenses might seem high, but you’ll realize how much money you actually make when you see how much you spend, as it’s being constantly depleted.

Another good way to manage your money is to sign up for a site like Credit Karma or Rocket Money. With Rocket Money, there’s a yearly subscription fee starting at $5 a month which helps you track your spending and sets up budgets for you. It’s helpful for college students who are on the go and learning to manage their finances without big mistakes. You can also always just start a budget spreadsheet, a typical way to start saving or organizing is the 50/30/20, where 50% of income goes to necessities, 30% debt/loans, and 20% for savings. This is a good way to save if you’re over 25 and have a stable income of about$50k a year. I would recommend over the summer saving half then using the rest for expenses and shopping. During the year put more in your checking because you’ve spent the summer saving and will need to spend more being away from home. 


By the time you’re out of high school you’re already at a disadvantage when it comes to your credit. This can be daunting, considering how crucial credit is in adult life, yet it’s often not taught in schools. It’s essential to educate yourself about credit and finances, especially during downtime like summer breaks. Don’t hesitate to research and seek answers to any questions you have about money management. The longer you postpone addressing financial issues, the more they accumulate, and in today’s world you can’t afford to let them escalate. 

A good way to start honestly is to talk to your parents or the adults in your life to find out about how they handle their finances. They will be a great resource because another confusing factor is, there are accounts you pay for and accounts your parents pay for you. Many budget apps have a hard time classifying money transfers, something many college families partake in, in order to keep up with bills and such. One way to avoid this is to manually classify the transactions or keep track by hand. When in doubt, double check. this way, the next time you want to purchase something you won’t have to hesitate before buying it.

Julia is a sophomore at Bucknell pursuing her BA in psychology. She loves hanging out with friends, petting dogs, and of course Taylor Swift. She lives in CT and her favorite color is pink!