Remember back in middle school when maybe you babysat occasionally for some money, or when you received Christmas/birthday/chore money and saved up for a trip to the mall, and called it a day? College is a completely different game and you’ll soon find that expenses pile up quickly! Suddenly you’re taking on responsibilities like rent, managing student loans, and paying for textbooks and daily necessities.
With over 25,000 students at Drexel, each and every student has a unique financial situation. If you’re asking when the right time to take charge of your own personal finances is, the answer is that it should’ve happened yesterday — but “now” is the second-best answer! Here’s how to get started.
- Budget, budget, budget
The easiest way to accidentally spend all of the money that you have is to not track your spending. It’s easy to swipe your card or quickly Venmo a friend since it doesn’t feel like money is leaving your account. Chances are that you don’t quite know how much you’re truly spending.
Creating a budget is an easy way to set guidelines for yourself. Budgets aren’t meant to be restrictive — they are meant to be freeing! You get to set aside money for eating out and going places with friends while making sure you can still buy groceries and pay for rent. Your paychecks should be divided up to cover all of the necessities — and then some! I’d even recommend budgeting out a certain amount of money to put into savings.
Take a look at some of the budget websites below and see which fits your lifestyle. I personally use the Every Dollar Budget by Dave Ramsey but there are several options available. Even a pen-and-paper budget works!
You Need a Budget (YNAB): A simple budgeting software that’s extremely popular. However, it does require a payment to use.
Mint: A free app that tracks your spending in categories based on your bank account, which you can easily pair with the app.
Every Dollar: A free app and website that requires you to “give every dollar a job” whether it’s to pay for books, meals, shoes or savings!
Acorns: An investing app that invests your spare change in stock.
The Envelope Method: If you’re a cash kinda gal, this might work for you. Label and stuff envelopes with the amount of money you need in each category (“Emergency, $30”) and stick to it!
- Side hustles
Having multiple streams of income is one of the best ways to solidify and supplement your personal finances. Traditional part-time jobs aren’t the only option. Food delivery, working remotely online, filling out surveys, walking dogs, work-study, selling your own clothing on different apps, and tutoring are just a small handful of the different side-hustles that are out there. Generation Z and Millennials are leading the way when it comes to joining the workforce while maintaining other gigs on the side.
- Staying savvy
Be aware of what you’re getting paid, of how much you’re saving, and of how much you owe in loans. Nothing is more empowering than taking charge of your own personal finances, and not letting a lack of knowledge get in the way of your own success.
While you may not have the time to become the ultimate finance guru, there are a lot of great, informative, free resources like blogs, Instagram accounts, informative YouTube Channels, podcasts and more. Drexel even offers a Personal Finance class that I took and found incredibly informative.
- Get a credit card… only if you can use it wisely
Building your credit score is important because it takes time. Starting early will give you a head start on something that’s important later in life when you’re looking to buy a car or a house. There are great student credit card options for people with low or no credit scores.
However, remember to pay off your balance every single month unless you want to end up paying much, much more than you bargained for — interest builds up, especially since student credit cards tend to have higher annual percentage rates (APR). A good rule of thumb is to not charge anything to your credit card that you can’t afford to buy in cash.
Just the fact that you clicked on this article indicates that you’ve taken a proactive step towards taking ownership of your financial situation and knowledge.
Not much to manage? That’s totally fine — in fact, that’s probably for the better. Learn how to keep track of your spending, saving and expenses with a small amount and you’ll be better equipped to handle larger amounts of money in the future.
Women have historically been given fewer financial rights in the past. The world has since evolved, and I believe that every female should empower herself by taking charge of her own finances. Nothing says #GirlBoss like staying on top of the money you make!