If you’ve just started college and are finding that you’re struggling to budget your cash so that you have enough to survive, then you aren’t alone. College is when a large portion of people are left to their own devices for the first time, and not much is done to help them prepare. This is especially true if you’ve recently received your first student loan payment and can see what looks to be a huge amount of money in your bank account. It’s easy to get excited and spend this on things you don’t need.
Not going to class
If you’ve ever had a real look at your tuition costs, then you’ll know that you are and will be paying a substantial amount to the university for your education. A good experiment is to work out how much each lecture costs based on your yearly fees. You may be shocked at the price you’re paying for just an hour or two of learning. If you’re paying this much, then it makes sense to go to every class to get as much value for money as possible. If not, you’re just wasting cash.
Related to the previous point, if you’re spending thousands of dollars on a class and then fail it, then you’ll essentially have to pay for it twice. This is a waste of time and money, so use this as an incentive to study hard and try to pass your classes the first time.
Not refinancing your student loan
This may not be relevant for the first year or two of college, but once you’ve started paying off your loan, it’s highly recommended that you look to refinance every few years. Refinancing a private student loan is essentially the process of taking your loan and seeing if there are any better options for you. The loan you have may be smaller after paying some of it off, for example, or you may want to combine several loans into a single pot. This can reduce interest rates, or you may be able to negotiate a longer payment term to bring the monthly costs down. For more information, look at refinance student loans with ELFI.
Splashing out on your house
You definitely want to make sure you’re living in a comfortable place, but college isn’t the time to be spending hundreds of dollars on furniture. There’s a good chance you’ll be ready to replace it when you graduate, so while you’re at college, check out your local thrift stores and use websites dedicated to getting rid of ‘stuff’ as a way to decorate your apartment on the cheap.
Abusing credit cards
Credit cards are great if you have a monthly salary, and you know that you’ll be able to pay off any debt quickly at the start of each month. As a student, though, they should be used for emergencies only, as if you max out a credit card and the interest starts, you’ll find you’re on a slippery slope to debt very quickly.