Top 10 tips for creating smart money habits

| 1/22/17 11:30pm

Being a college student is hard. From concerns about class schedules to the struggle of trying to balance school and fun, there isn't much room for extra concerns, especially when it comes to money. Though some days it may seem as though there isn't much hope in the financial department, there are several resources you can take advantage of as a college student that can save you cash. 

1. Create a budget. Though this is often the hardest part of making a financial plan, budgeting is key to saving money and providing for the necessitates of college life. Take your monthly earnings and deduct things like rent, utilities and food then see what you have left. When you calculate that, decide how much you can realistically put in your savings while still having money to let loose every once in a while. 

2. Wants versus needs. Even though you should allow for some room in your budget for hanging out with friends or doing something special, you should also be aware of the difference between a "want" and a "need." Overall, needs should take priority over all wants. Though it may be fun to spend a little extra that you don't have on doing something fun, you'll come to regret it when rent is due.

3. Don't rely on credit cards. College is a great time for students to start to build credit, it is also prime time for habits of credit card abuse to begin. When looking at credit cards, it is important to realize that the card is there for emergencies (because you can't plan for everything) but should not be used in excess. Instead, use a credit card a little each month for something like gas and then pay it off at the end of the month to avoid interest charges. 

4. Talk to someone about your loans. Unfortunately, as college students, loans are a reality for a large majority. Even though loans don't seem real right now, it can help to go and talk to someone in the financial aid office about what options you have for paying off loans. Sometimes, you can start paying interest on your loans while in college so that you aren't in as much interest debt after graduation. 

5. Apply for scholarships. There are endless scholarships available for students as they go through their college career. It doesn't matter if the semester has started or not, there are usually several scholarships open through the university as well as through outside sources that can really reduce the blow of college costs. Do some research, you may be surprised what you find. 

6. Get an internship. An internship is a great way to get a look at the career path you are considering as well as an opportunity to network outside of the college campus. A lot of times, internships can lead to job offers after graduation because of work done during your undergraduate. This also can help with time management as well as life planning after graduation. 

7. Use student IDs for discounts. Student IDs can get you discounts at restaurants, movie tickets and a variety of businesses. Carry your ID with you when you go shopping because you never know who will offer a discount. Also, remember that it's always okay to ask if places have a discount available, sometimes discounts are not advertised to the public. 

8. Don't buy new. Whether you're looking to purchase textbooks or a new laptop, remember to look for what used options are available first. There are often discounts offered through campus locations for technology and Amazon and other online distributors can sometimes offer a lower rate than other bookstores. 

9. Take public transportation. Grand Valley State University students have free access to the Rapid busing system. Use public transportation to take away from the cost of gas and parking passes to save money monthly. Not only does this keep money in your pocket, but it also helps keep the environment clean. 

10. Look at getting part-time work. Being a student while working at the same time is easier said than done. However, there are several flexible options available for students that allow for different schedules and areas of focus. Look into being a tutor or working at a local business, just make sure that you can complete the necessary work as well as your class load. 

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