The best thing about going to college is gaining control over your life. As a college student, you need to keep in mind that this perk also comes with responsibility. This is especially true when it comes to your finances. Even if your parents are paying for your college fees, you still need to be smart about managing your finances while you enjoy your newfound freedom.

Developing smart financial behaviors early on will help improve your money-management skills. Here are a few smart and realistic financial moves which will help you get through your freshmen year and beyond, without taking up unnecessary credit card debt and student loan.

Set A Realistic Budget

This may seem like an obvious plan for spending and saving, but you might be surprised as to how many college students fail to set a budget for themselves. Keep in mind that it is never too early to start a budget. Your main objective must be to balance how much comes into your bank account with how much you spend. The money that came from your parents or from your part-time job is your main source of income.

As a tip, you need to add your total monthly expenses, which include your groceries, rent, bills, and transportation. After doing so, you need to add a bit of allowance. It is crucial to take a few minutes at the start of the month or week to set up your financial plan.

Be Careful With Opening A Credit Card

It is not worth it to burden yourself with unnecessary interest rates and annual fees. Keep in mind that once you open a credit card with your own name, you will have to pay for high-interest and annual-fees if you choose to use it. You need to understand that using a credit card doesn’t translate to free money. If you choose to use your card to purchase items, you will have to pay for it once the credit card bills arrive.

If getting a credit card is a must, you can start with a thousand dollar limit that offers points and rewards. Remember to pay your monthly balance because failing to do so will lead to high interest rates and debt. As a tip, do not look at your credit limit as your objective for spending. Lastly, when signing up for a card, look at its annual percentage rate, penalty fees, and annual fee.

Enjoy Student Perks For Free

You don’t have to spend extra money on things you can easily get for free. In college, there are always giveaways on campus. If you hear about it, go get some. You can also participate in on-campus clubs. Attending club meetings will help you get free food which will not only help you save on food money, but it also allows you to meet new people.

Eat At The Cafeteria

Aside from enjoying student perks, you can also save money by eating at the cafeteria rather than eating outside campus. The cafeteria might not be offering the kind of meal you want, but that equals the money you can save. If you decide to eat out, you can also take advantage of any student discounts at food establishments or venues you frequently visit.

Look For Cheaper Textbooks

One of the things that can contribute to your high expenses is your textbooks. In fact, an average college student pays at least a thousand dollars a year for their books alone. As a tip, avoid buying new books at your campus bookstore because they usually sell books at a higher price. It is much better to purchase them online or you can consider renting textbooks instead. Renting or buying gently used books can help you save up to 50%. You can also sell your used them at the end of the semester.

Look For A Part-Time Job

You can also look for a part-time job if you want to earn extra cash. There are a lot of establishments that offer part-time jobs for college students. For instance, you can consider applying as a barista at Starbucks or you can look for summer sales programs that help you earn money while school is out. These companies can train you, offer you a job, and help you get extra cash. In addition, your part-time job can also help boost your resume, giving you a competitive edge once you graduate.

  • Rachel Torgerson.”Car RepaMoney saving tips for college studentsir”. September 2, 2011. Online Image. Flickr. Aug 07, 2013
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The author, Kris Lim, is a college student majoring in Finance. The info here will help college students manage their money wisely while they enjoy their independence in college.