How Can Students Keep Track of Their Finances?

How Can Students Keep Track of Their Finances?

The financial journey as a student can feel like running a boat in fog: stressful and scary. However, managing money is one of the most empowering skills you can develop during school. Whether living off campus for the first time, working a side job to increase your resources, or simply trying to stretch your student loan throughout the semester, staying on top of your finances can significantly impact your overall experience. In this guide, we will cover some simple steps toward keeping your spending in check, getting the most out of your funds, and saving some money.

How Can Students Keep Track of Their Finances?
How Can Students Keep Track of Their Finances?

Set a Clear Budget

Setting a (clearly defined) budget is like drawing out a map for a treasure hunt: it shows where to go and where to spend your money. It’s essential for students, who often have only a few coins in their purse. Start with your income. Write down all your income sources: a part-time job, an allowance, or a scholarship. Then do the same with your expenditures: tuition, books, rent, food, and, for example, another coffee shop visit. The thoroughness is everything. Simple home budgeting applications are usually one-window apps that sort everything into subcategories and even warn you about spending too much money.

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Track Your Spending

If you were to step wherever your money went, every dollar you spent would leave a trace: by tracking what you’re spending, you’re following those footprints to see where money flows. It’s a powerful eye-opener for students. If they remain blissfully unaware of their frequent, small purchases, tracking keeps them honest on how much those extra dollars can add up. As Benjamin Franklin wisely cautioned, “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” Using a free spreadsheet or budgeting app like Mint, Toshl, or Mvelopes, a straightforward paper log can make for sound learning. Spending little time tracking expenditures can make a big difference in your budget. Not only does tracking keep you on budget, but it’s also a powerful means of cutting back.

Embrace Student Discounts and Deals

Another advantage of student life is that it’s packed with discounts and reduced prices for a lot of stuff, from software to transport, from movies to meals. With over 200 million college and university students globally, many businesses are keen to offer discounts to tap into this large demographic. Don’t be afraid to carry your student ID everywhere and flash it at restaurants and shops, or use one of the many websites to aggregate student discounts wherever you travel. Many of your university’s local businesses could have offers you aren’t aware of, so always ask if they have a student discount available. A few quid here and there make a big difference to your monthly budget, so it’ll feel like you can afford or budget for other essential things you might need or want once you’re armed with additional pocket money from your savings.

Save, No Matter How Small the Amount

It might feel disappointing when you’re pinching pennies, but seeing even small savings add up to big piles over time is a great feeling. It’s the principle of “paying yourself.” Start with a small percentage of all incoming. A couple of dollars, or pounds or euros, every week into a high-interest savings account can put together a buffer for emergency expenses or go towards a goal in the future, such as a post-graduation trip or an entrepreneurial fund for starting that business or website you’ve been dreaming of. Alternatively, consider a student savings account that identifies you as a student with better rates than a regular one. A student savings account is a bank account for students with lower fees and sometimes higher interest rates to help them save money easily.

Educate Yourself About Financial Management

Learning the basics of financial management can be a game-changer for students who want to feel more in control of their finances. Here are some resources and tips to get you there. 

  • College Workshops and Courses: Many universities offer personal finance workshops or full courses, which can provide recommendations and strategies tailored to students’ needs. 
  • Online Tutorials: You can find dedicated financial gurus covering the fundamentals of budgets and savings one YouTube clip at a time.
  • Educational Articles: Numerous finance-focused websites offer articles that range from beginner tips to advanced investment strategies.
  • Calculators: Create and use online calculators for mortgages, investing, and budgeting apps.

If you don’t use our resources, you’ll never get this message: to gain more independence, stop thinking so much about grade-school metrics like “grades” and “test scores” and start developing cognitive self-sufficiency in other vital areas. Although not immediately apparent, becoming good at personal finance and making wiser financial decisions – skills necessary to achieve economic stability – involves some of the most critical, valuable, and challenging cognitive skills.

Smart Money Moves

Set a Clear BudgetPrevents overspending and promotes savings using budgeting apps.
Track Your SpendingOffers clarity on spending patterns, helping to identify areas for cost-cutting.
Embrace Student DiscountsReduces everyday expenses significantly, enhancing budget management.
Save, No Matter How SmallBuilds financial security and prepares for future financial needs.
Educate Yourself About Financial ManagementImproves financial literacy, enabling informed and effective financial decisions.

But tracking your way through the money maze doesn’t have to be an arduous slog. If you tackle it step by step, you can turn it into a rewarding experience that keeps you afloat during your time as a university student and lays the foundations for an economically sustainable life after you graduate. Start with the actions listed here to master the most crucial financial habits you need.

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