Whether you are heading off to university for the first time or headed back for another year, student life can be expensive. Tuition fees, student fees, books/course materials, food costs, transportation and living expenses add up and can have a big impact on your financial future. The less student debt you incur now, the less you will have to pay back in the future. As a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, I meet so many adults whose debt issues started while attending university or college. Not all money lessons have to be complicated or take time. Following a few simple lessons now, can save you big money in the long run.
Make Your Money Last All Semester
You may feel rich with all that student loan money in your account but it’s important to remember that you have to make it last for several months, not several weeks. Make a weekly spending plan for needs vs wants and stick to it. Download a spending app to track where your money goes every day.
Watch the ATM fees
ATM’s at bars/restaurants or on campus are often independent and not linked to a bank. They charge user fees of $5-$10. If you go out for the evening and take cash from these machines, be prepared to pay these fees. Would you stand on the street and hand out $5 or $10 to a stranger? No. But using these machines, you are doing just that! Small costs add up over time. Save the fees and pay attention to how you use your money.
Never Share Your Pin#
It doesn’t matter who you trust, never share your PIN # or leave the # written down in your wallet. It is your responsibility to protect the monies in your account and the bank will find you at fault if you shared the PIN#.
Stop the Tap & Go
Ever been out and you don’t notice you lost your debit card until the next day? Money missing from your bank account because someone found it and used it last night? This happens quite often to students. While it’s convenient and quick, it also makes it easy for someone else to use your card without your authorization. Ask your bank and remove this function.
Treat a Credit Card like a Lay-A-Way Plan
Most students use credit cards like they are extra income. They are extra debt! Banks charge big interest rates on credit card purchases and minimum payments missed. They hope you only pay the minimum or miss a payment. Fees can add up and that small purchase of $10 could be $50 with interest. Pay with debit or cash if you can. If you use credit, make a plan to pay it all off within 30 days to avoid interest.
Get a Job
If you can manage your studies and a part-time job, get one. It will give you extra money for the things you need or want while still staying on a student budget.
Don’t be the guy who buys drinks for all everyone all the time. It’s ok to say no I can’t buy tonight or I can’t go out because I don’t have enough money. The good news? Most students don’t have enough money! Don’t be embarrassed. You can have fun on a limited budget if you have the right people around you.
I suggest you treat managing your money like one of your courses. Invest the time to study your finances each day, research ways to save money like student discounts. If you fail, pull yourself up and try again week after week. Don’t give up as proper money habits take time and energy. But with determination, you will get an A+.