As a college freshman, you are probably facing financial management by yourself for the first time, especially when you live away from home. Gone are the days when, as a high school student, you can reach home, stretch out a hand and ask your parents for a quick fifty.
You are probably given a sum, or none at all at college, and getting any disposable cash may be a thing of the past for you. You may have to survive on scholarships or bursaries, and if you have failed to secure any of those, you will have to work yourself through college.
1. Work on your disposable income.
A great error that many people make, and that includes adults who have worked years, is to forget to deduct the regular expenditure before they go on a spending spree. Face it: on paper, you may receive eight hundred dollars. Subtract the tuition fees, the lodging rental, the transportation fare, and you may be down to a hundred or two only for entertainment, food and other hidden costs.
What you should then work on for your daily expenditure is the hundred or two and not the eight hundred dollars. A good way to arrive at your disposable income will be to pay all the fixed expenditure that you need to upfront and not in installment if you are given a lump sum, such as a scholarship or bursary, to work on.
Deposit the remaining amount into a reliable bank and draw only what you need on a weekly or monthly basis.
2. Work on a day by day budget, not a lump sum.
Divide the amount you have left by the maximum number of days in a month, that is thirty-one, after deducting what you have for fixed expenditure. For example, after deducting all that you have to pay, you are left with six hundred dollars. It means that you have not more than twenty dollars to spend per day.
It would be prudent to work on that twenty dollars as a daily guide, and on a hundred and forty dollars per week. In other words, if you spend thirty dollars on Monday, you are in the red, and you will either spend ten dollars on Tuesday, and go back to twenty a day from Wednesday, or average out the remaining hundred and ten for the other six days of the week.
Follow the guidelines given above, and you will not find yourself in the red at the end of the month.
3. Keep an account of your expenditure and amount left.
An alternative, or addition to the above tips, is to tally your expenditure for the day, and work out the amount left daily. It could be more tedious, however, you will be in the know whether you have that fifty dollars left end of the month to splurge on a trip to the nearby town.
4. Go for entertainment on campus.
Most college grounds are equipped with basic fitness equipment such as a gymnasium, a fitness station, a swimming pool and lots of pathways to run along. There is likely to be a mini-theater that airs movies. The Internet has also opened doors to free viewing of movies, even if they are not the latest.
5. Ride a bicycle around campus.
Instead of owning a car that you would have to maintain financially and physically, why not own a skateboard or a cheap bicycle, and cycle around the campus? You will not only save a sizable amount of money, but also keep yourself healthy with all the cycling.
6. Eat well on the cheap side.
It is possible to eat well on a small budget. Eating too much will make you drowsy and develop unhealthy bulge on your physical frame. What you need to know is how to have a balanced diet daily.
7. Pay in cold cash, not credit.
Other than the fixed expenditure that can come up to a few hundred, it is wiser to pay for your daily expenditure with cash and not your credit card. There is often a minimum amount to be paid when using the credit card. You are likely to be tempted to spend more when using the credit card.
8. Avoid having or using a credit card.
Unless you have absolute self-discipline and self-control, and understand how you could use the credit card to your advantage, avoid having one. If you are not careful, you may accumulate debts that you do not see, because you do not keep track of your expenditure well.
College life gears you up for life as a working adult. That includes financial planning and managing your budget. Live within your means, and you will not need to work part time. You can therefore put your heart into doing the best you can in your studies.