How To Simplify Your Financial Life In College

College is a busy time when the focus should be on your education, not on juggling payments and obligations and worrying about where the money will come from. Whether you’re already a college student or will be heading off for campus for the first time this fall, it makes sense to simplify and gain control of your finances now. There’s no time like the present to get a grip on your financial resources. It will be one less thing to worry about when the papers are coming due and there are exams to study for.

Make a budget and stick to it

Start with schooling and living expenses. Get familiar with your school’s website for a list of expenses such as books, tuition, fees, room and board. You can also consult with others, in school or grads, to see if there are any costs you might have overlooked. Once you have a good idea of what the realistic expenses will be, you’ll know how much money you’ll need. Having a budget is only half of the task, though. Make a commitment to be disciplined enough to stick to it.

Protect your identity

You’ll be filling out forms for everything from registering to applying for financial aid to getting a library card. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your identity can’t be stolen just because these are school forms. Identity theft can happen any time you put your personal information in writing. Consider an identity protection program like Lifelock when you’re headed off to college. In the event that your wallet is lost or taken or your identity stolen, Lifelock’s services will assist you with their remediation and recovery services.

Don’t spend needlessly

It might be difficult to get through the lean years of college without cable TV and 2 or 3 lattes a day, but if those costs weren’t factored into your budget, then they aren’t things you can afford to spend on. If you find yourself with some extra cash at the end of the month, treating yourself is acceptable, but split your overages, setting aside half for savings before spending the rest on fun or luxury.

Avoid or eliminate credit card debt

College is notoriously the time when people have a lot of first experiences. One that can either be educational or disastrous is the first encounter with a credit card. The feeling of financial freedom that might come over you initially is just an illusion. That will quickly come to an end once your limit is maxed out and the payments start coming due. If you haven’t racked up a credit card bill, then don’t. If you have already, set aside money in your budget to pay it off ASAP.

Keep in touch with financial aid

Meet with the financial aid department at your school to find out about grants and scholarships that you might be eligible for as well as to collect information on federal loans and other financial aid. Continue to check back periodically as new opportunities are announced all the time. When deciding on what type of assistance to apply for, put in for the grants and scholarships first, as they won’t require repayment. Only apply for loans if other financial aid isn’t available.

Attention to these five areas before they become critical will do a lot to keep your peace of mind during a time when stress can be high. Added financial and identity theft security are prime ways to keep a level head in the college world. With a little planning and some self discipline you’ll be creating lifelong habits that will serve you well in school and long after graduation.

Damon Adkins: Damon is a social media expert and entertainment enthusiast. He studied digital journalism on the West Coast and settled in the bay area with his family.

89 Responses to “How To Simplify Your Financial Life In College”

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