Attending college is exciting, stimulating, and fun – but paying for it, and managing your finances as a student, can be stressful. Most college students don’t have a steady stream of income and live on a tight budget.
If you’re feeling some financial anxiety, you’re not alone. Our members often come to us for advice about how to reduce money-related stress. With that in mind, here are six tips to help you manage your financial anxiety while you’re in college.
#1: Make a Budget
One of the reasons college students experience financial anxiety is that they don’t keep track of their income and spending. Their focus is on studying and enjoying college. As a result, they may delay creating a budget to help them manage their finances.
That’s a mistake. A proper budget can help remove a lot of the stress around money by helping you understand what you can afford to spend. If you’re paying rent, a budget will ensure you have the money to pay every month.
A good budget for college should include money for essentials like rent and food, as well as some designated money for entertainment.
#2: Take Advantage of Student Discounts
It can be frustrating not to be able to do all of the things you want to do, but college students can do more than you might think. Your college ID can also get you a student discount for events and attractions.
For example, students can use their IDs to get discounted theater and movie tickets and discounted admission to museums. Some retailers, including Eddie Bauer, Banana Republic, and J Crew, offer student discounts on purchases. You may even be able to save money on your cell phone service – both Sprint and AT&T have student discount programs.
#3: Skimp Where It Makes Sense
There are some things you will need to pay full price to buy, but that’s not always the case. Be practical about the things you need and want – and always look for opportunities to save a few dollars.
Textbooks are a case in point. You may want new books for classes in your major, but consider buying used books for some of your electives. Your college’s bookstore may sell used books. You can also find used books online. Even renting books is an alternative. You can check out our full guide to saving money on textbooks here.
When a class ends, you may also want to think about selling your textbooks. You can sell them back to your college bookstore or sell them yourself on campus or online. It’s a good way to put a little bit of the money you spent back in your pocket.
#4: Apply for Grants and Scholarships
Sometimes college students are stressed out about future financial obligations. If you’ve taken out thousands of dollars in student loans, you may find yourself feeling anxious about making the payments when you graduate.
One way to reduce the amount you’ll need to repay is to apply for grants and scholarships instead. Grant and scholarship applications require some work, but if you get the money, you won’t need to repay it. Check with local businesses and professional associations related to your major for scholarships. You can also use the search engine on CollegeBoard.org to find scholarships.
#5: Get a Job or a Paid Internship
Trying to juggle a work schedule with your classes and homework can be challenging, but having a little money coming in regularly can also make a big difference in helping you cope with financial anxiety. The key is to find a job that’s compatible with your schedule and that’s close enough to campus to be convenient for you.
While many of the internships open to college students are unpaid, there are paid options as well. You’ll need to do a little legwork to identify companies in your area who might be willing to hire you, but it can pay off both in terms of money and career experience if you can land a paid internship.
#6: Get Some Financial Advice
Finally, you may want to consider getting some advice about the best way to manage your finances. Some banks offer free consultations to help their account holders manage their money. Or if you’re a member of a credit union like CFE, you can ask for assistance.
One key difference between banks and credit unions is that credit union members own the company. That means you’re more likely to get the kind of advice and support you need at a credit union. We love it when our clients come to us for assistance. It’s why we’re here.
Managing your finances in college can be stressful, but these six tips can help you reduce your financial anxiety and enjoy your college experience.
To learn about CFE’s student loan programs, please click here.