Apart from preparing yourself for academic excellence in the university, another critical facet to evaluate is your financial state. Since universities are infamous access cards to full-blown adulthood, you are most likely going to take charge of your finances from Year One. This responsibility for students necessitates a thorough understanding of money and related topics to make well-informed financial decisions.
The five financial tips below cover aspects from taking control of expenses to setting budgets and prioritizing, to give every freshman a head start on University Finance 101.
● Take Control
University is the best place to start being responsible with money. Do not start your uni days with bad spending habits. Be as prudent as possible with your income, especially if you are still dependent on a guardian for upkeep. Your financial management score at the start of school will determine whether or not you can be trusted with larger sums subsequently.
● Budget Making
Creating a budget is an important financial strategy for every freshman. First, you need to make an average of your total income (from parents or guardians, freelance work, or gifts) then write a list of your recurring expenditure every month. It can take up to a month or two to make a steady budget as you will have to track your new spending habits for some time. If you are not the pen and paper type, there are many impressive online budget apps for mobile devices. You only have to manually record your income and spending and let the app do the work.
Now, budget-making is the easiest part; sticking to your budget is usually the hardest. Let your budget be your guide and try not to spend outside it, especially on impulse. A pro-tip is to always set aside money for savings before you spend your money. Find a safe deposit with interest and put your savings away for rainy days.
● Prioritize your Spending
After making a budget, it is also important to prioritize your spending by telling the difference between needs and luxury. Needs are essential requirements while luxuries are things you want but can do without. The best approach for priority spending is to set goals in order of precedence. For example, you can set a goal of buying jewelry, a textbook, and new trainers. A responsible student that has learnt how to prioritize will buy the textbook before the trainers and jewelry, in order of importance. This is a valuable process that will ensure you give attention to materials relevant to your education before others.
● Avoid Living off Loans
If you are not on a scholarship or you do not have a guardian covering your academic financial needs, it means you are responsible for paying your way through school. Loans then can sometimes feel like free money but remember when you borrow, especially from financial institutions, the sum has to be paid back with interest. Try not to get hooked on loan sharks as they form a never-ending cycle of debt. If you are a student on a loan, only pay for academic essentials like tuition, course materials, and levies with loan money. You will need another source of income to pay for living expenses and gradually offset your debt. There are a ton of part-time remote jobs for students to make money from. Find one or more that match your skillset and give it your best. If your education is too demanding and leaves little to no time for you to work during school sessions, use your breaks and your holidays to do as much work as you can and save money to carry you through your next session.
● Don’t Go for New
Unless you are financially buoyant to afford new items without breaking a sweat, it is cheaper and wiser to buy preloved alternatives, especially if they are seasonal. Most university textbooks are expensive and you might have to use a ton of them every session before you get your degree. Before you buy a recommended textbook, check to see if your school library has a copy. You can also find a peer-to-peer book lending community as such groups are starting to gain traction in most schools. If ever borrowing a textbook becomes unattainable, you can buy a used copy at a discount. Even though it might not be in pristine condition, the information inside will always be evergreen, and you will save money as well!
Another time to consider thrifting is with furniture and appliances. Ask around and you will see that even on your first day, someone moving out of a living area needs buyers for items from cooking equipment, to reading furniture and even appliances. Many agents have made businesses by being intermediaries between buyers and sellers of fairly-used items. If you can determine the items you need are still in good condition, you should consider buying them to save extra cash instead of splurging on new items you might not need for a long time.