A 2007 survey by the Hartford Financial Services Group found that about 70 per cent of college students cited their parents as their primary source of information. Much of that information gathering happens through observation, which can lead to confusion or misinterpretation when observed without explanation.
When it comes to learning about finances from parents, the confusion increases because money tends to be considered a private matter and topic too taboo for conversation. You’ve got yourself a dilemma as you head to university and try to figure out some of these big moments, like how to deal with money, on your own.
It’s been over ten years since that study was conducted, and it’s still true that sometimes being a student dealing with money is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
There are different ways to manage money responsibly as a student. Let’s talk about finances.
1. Live Within Your Means
Overspending is a serious issue. Everyone faces it in some way in their lives. Whether you’re trying to stunt for the ‘gram or you just want to please your significant other, it’s so easy to quickly fall into that trap as a student and overspend. In order to gain control over your financial life, consider starting a budget. This will help you see where your money is going and where you need to cut back. There are diverse and personalized ways to create a spending plan and you can choose which one best fits your style.
2. Set Financial Goals
So now that you’ve created your spending plan, it’s time to set some financial goals. According to Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor who recently studied the art and science of goal setting at the Dominican University in California, you become 42 per cent more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down regularly. Whatever your spending, saving, financial, or debt reimbursement goal may be, make sure to write it down as you work towards it.
3. Learn the Difference Between Wants vs. Needs
It’s important to determine what you want versus what you need. This is a game changer when it comes to spending frivolously. People’s needs are fundamentally the same; for example, we all need food, water, and clothing. However, wants vary. You may need some new shoes, but choosing nice Adidas over the new Yeezys will help you cater to your needs while still keeping you within your spending budget. Determining your wants versus your needs will help you resist impulse buying and overspending.
4. Resist Peer Pressure
It’s okay to say ‘no.’ If your friend group is always going out to eat, chilling at the nearest shisha spot, or constantly at the movie theatre (and not on a cheapy Tuesday!), recognize the power that you have by saying, “I’m sorry, I’m gonna have to pass on this one.” Your friends don’t pay your bills nor do they work for your money, so when you’re being pressured, remember your financial goals and make sure your activities align with them. And who knows, maybe you’ll inspire your friend group to start being more financially conscious themselves.
5. Be Wary of Abusing Your Credit & Ruining Your Credit Score
Credit cards are not a good option for everyone. If you know that you don’t pay your friends back when they loan you money, or if you’re an impulsive shopper, maybe take a step back and really consider if having a credit card is what you need. If you do end up getting a credit card, make sure to include your spendings in your spending plan and write down the deadline to return the money. Mistakes made with a credit card have the potential to affect your future because your credit score would be ruined. Ask a trusted professional more about credit cards and scores before you enter this world.
6. Misusing Student Loans
It’s not cheap to seek higher education these days. However, for all those who are doing so with the help of government loans, make sure you’re not abusing the money. You must remember: the money is not yours. The loans will need to be paid back. Again, track the money that you’re receiving in your spending plan and try to use only the bursary portion of it (the part you don’t need to pay back), while saving the loans portion for later. That way, at the end of your degree, you only need to head to the bank and return the money you have saved.
Being financially free and independent is such a good feeling. So here’s to better money management, collegiates!