8 Ways for College Students to Stay Financially Fit


mint Keeping a budget can ensure you are spending consciously. Budgeting can be done in a few easy steps: First, figure out your income, which includes financial help you receive from your parents, and money from student loans/grants. Then start making your lists: how much you owe for every fixed expense you have (rent, car insurance) and then list your variable expenses, such as food. To do this you can look at old bills, bank statements and receipts. Finally, allow yourself some money for extras: think about a realistic number you want to allot yourself for movie tickets, going to restaurants, etc.  Utilize budgeting web apps such as Mint, which will keep a running tab on your spending.

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Explore Cost-Saving Options

studentid2 Lower the cost of paying for school by researching different scholarships and financial resources. Submit a Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to see how much help you could get paying for college. You can also look for private scholarships through sites like the College Board.

Also, find out what kinds of student discounts businesses near your school offer.

Many retail shops offer a discount just for your showing your college ID.

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Cheaper Textbook Options

bookssThere are also tons of textbook rental sites that can save you tons of money by renting instead of buying your books!

Chegg and Bookrenter are two popular options. If you have an iPad or tablet, explore the option of downloading a digital copy of the book.

Checking the library can also be another way to save money. It's the only option that gives you the book for free.

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Trim the Fat

list Go back to the budget you made earlier. If you don't have any money left over once you've paid off all your expenses and treated yourself to a few extras, you'll have to change some of your habits.

It's not so difficult -- just think about what you can reduce. Often the most expensive expense is housing. One option is to consider moving in order to find a cheaper alternative, or perhaps finding another roommate to help cut costs.

Another option is to check for monthly subscriptions that you actually don't need or use, such as cable TV or unlimited text messaging.

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Take Advantage of Student Perks

collegestu Often your tuition includes a general student activity fee. This means that many college activities are free to students, so take advantage of what your school is offering.

Also, many colleges have meal plans that are designed to save students money on buying meals. It may be cheaper than buying food outside or even purchasing groceries.

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Figure Out What Triggers Spending; Don't Be Impulsive

bag Avoid going into places that you know are too tempting. Try and control your spending and save the shopping trips as rare treats.

Socializing also can turn into a big expense -- going to a friend's house for a movie night or hosting a gathering at your apartment is a much cheaper solution.

If everyone pitches in for food and drink, the cost becomes much smaller.

Another thing to watch is where you're withdrawing money. Try to only use ATMs that are provided by your bank, otherwise those ATM fees will build up.

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Debt Management

money Many financial experts encourage new college students to begin learning about personal finance by getting a credit card or debit card.

However, it's important NOT to view a credit card as free money. The average college student leaves school with about $20,000 in debt.

Never take student loans you don't truly need. Student loans should be your last resort.

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Save Early and Often

saveSave early and often is a financial adage that should always be embraced.

If you have a part-time job while going to school, try to set $10 aside for every paycheck.

That way you'll begin building a fund that will definitely come in handy for life's pitfalls, whether it be a nest egg to move out of your parent's house after college, or to pay off loans or debt.

You won't be sorry you saved.

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