How to Manage Your Money in College

By Sydney Wheat on December 1, 2017

During my first year at Cornerstone, my concept of money was not fully established. One day, during January of my freshman year, I received a call from my dad that led to a conversation about the cost of college. At that moment, I realized that my lifestyle and lack of attention to finances needed to change. It was then that my mindset toward money management switched directions.

Here are eight tricks that helped (and continue to help) me actively manage and save money while in college. Although these financial practices and principles will not make you rich overnight, they have the potential to set you up for great financial success in the future.

1. Get a job.

At first, I did not think I would be able to handle a job, a full course load and a social life all at once, but my experience with working while in school has been the exact opposite.

I found that having a job while in school gives me a steady income, teaches me time management skills and allows me to meet many new people to network with.

2. Make a budget.

This is the heart of your entire financial situation. Without a budget, there is little to no understanding of where your money is going.

You can find many budgeting templates online. For example, Dave Ramsey has a few that work great! Feel free to also make a customized one yourself that fits your lifestyle.

3. Actively manage your budget on the go with apps.

Take your budget with you on the road with apps such as Mint or EveryDollar! Don't just let it be a spreadsheet that sits on your computer, let it be an active asset that pushes you to manage your money constantly.

Find an app that allows you to input your cash flows so you can make sure you are living within your means.

4. Pay your credit card on time.

If you have a credit card, pay your balance on time. This will prevent you from losing money to high interest on your credit card debt and it will increase your credit score.

Set up your card to be paid through automatic payments each month so that all you have to do is make sure you have enough in your bank account to cover your card's total balance. This will ensure that you never miss a payment.

5. Wait 24 hours before you buy something.

Money management boils down to your feelings and emotions about money. The reason you buy something is that you feel you need it or your life would be better if you have it.

By practicing self-control, you can begin to manage one of the biggest factors that play into your financial stability. There is nothing rewarding about trying to keep up with the Joneses!

6. Make your own coffee.

I love going out to coffee with people. I could sit down and listen to you talk all day and I would love it…but my wallet cannot handle that. It puts my stomach in a knot to see how much money I spend on coffee because it is easy to let a few dollars here and there slip through your fingers.

To help solve this problem, I redesigned my dorm room to make it more inviting and I MADE MY OWN COFFEE! I was still able to have time with people, but I did not have to break the bank to do it.

7. Purge.

Once every semester, I challenge you to go through your closet and take out what you did not wear. Consider selling those items through apps such as Poshmark or Vinted.

It is a refreshing feeling to rid your closet of clutter and to make a few bucks along the way.

8. Find student deals.

Take a few hours out of your week and browse around to see what companies offer student deals. Personally, I know I am more inclined to subscribe to a service if there is a deal for me.

There are a number of companies that offer discounted rates for students; take some time and look around to see where you can save.

The Takeaway

Do not feel like you have to miss out on events or the college experience if you do not have money—just get creative! Still, go to the bowling alley or tag along to a trip to Meijer…just don't buy. Or, if you go out to dinner, split a meal with a friend.

Managing money does not have to be a drag. It is a very fruitful practice once you switch your mindset about it. And, if you learn the fundamentals of financial management now, you are setting yourself up for successful financial management in the future.

I challenge you to honor where the Lord placed you as a student and work hard to pay for your education so you will have a greater capacity to bless others financially in your future.

You Can Afford a College Education

Do you have questions about how to make college more affordable? We've created a free guide that includes top tips from Jana Lamberts, financial aid specialist at Cornerstone.

Get the Guide

Categories: First-Year Checklists, Student Perspectives