College is a space where students, both new and almost-graduated, have the ability to test-drive adulthood. When I went off to start my undergraduate degree, my parents gave me a handful of money for the semester. As the semesters came and went, the money stopped coming in. I soon got an on-campus job that took the place of my parents. But while only working part time while having to pay for class supplies, food, and entertainment, how did I manage to budget my money so that I have some to spare? There are two primary tactics that I utilize when managing my money.
Although this term typically gets a negative connotation, this idea does in fact come in handy when trying to limit your spending. For example, I get paid, more or less, $250 bi-weekly. After chopping my paycheck in order to save some of it, I’m left with about $100 to spend for two weeks. Whether I use it all or not, I have a strict limit on how much money I can use in that certain amount of time. By living paycheck-to-paycheck, other students can successfully limit how much money they spend on (non)necessities. This way, students won’t be as stressed out in terms of how much money they have or if they can afford food, and rather they can stress over their many classes.
Paying with cash
Credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, there are so many methods of payment that have come to replace good old paper money. While all these cards sure come in handy when you’re out of cash, they also make it easier to spend more than you intended to. However, overspending can be detrimental to college students, especially when it runs the risk of losing money for school supplies or groceries. When I have my $100 left over, I immediately go to an ATM and get that money in cash. Cash, often unlike credit, is limited-- once you run out of cash, you have to get more. If you strictly use cash for menial transactions (i.e. not $200 textbooks), then it will be much easier to restrict your spending. Combined with living paycheck-to-paycheck, students can feel at ease when buying groceries or going out to the bar with friends.
Finances are always tricky to handle, and they can be even trickier when you’re trying to make it through school. Though endless amounts of money have to be spent on books and school supplies, it doesn’t hurt to spend some extra money here and there, however, it’s vitally important that you continue to keep your money under control when spending for fun.