Tips, tricks and advice on finances for university and college students
One thing that has caused me, and probably many other students, a lot of stress is  personal finance.

 When September comes rolling around, I start the school year with a very happy bank account. For those who have dealt with financial aids before, you could probably understand what it's like to wake up one morning and have a large sum of money sitting in your bank account. For me, the first thing I think of is how great a new pair of shoes would look in my wardrobe. Before you know it, it's time for finals and all you have left in your account is just enough to buy that Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks. Eventually, it's time to start searching through your pockets for spare change, or if you're lucky you have parents who will #bless your account with just enough money to survive the month. Congratulations, you've finally hit rock bottom.

This blog post will try to show you, and my future self, some great methods and tips to AVOID making the phone call that we have all dreaded making to the 'rents: "Hey Mom, Hey Dad...I'm broke"




First things first, I'm the realest, you need to make a list of all your mandatory fixed expenses. These are things that you need to pay for and  that for the most part, don't change in price.

TUITION (a.k.a. the reason you're getting financial aid)
RENT (You don't want to get kicked out of student housing)
CELL PHONE PLAN*
CAR INSURANCE*
* may apply to you

Once you know how much these will cost, for however long you financial is is supposed to cover (i.e. 4 months, 8 months, etc.), you want to set that money aside. You can either:
a) Put these funds into a separate account
b) Pay all these expenses in bulk, if possible

This way you never run the risk of getting kicked out of school or your house. You'll also have cell phone service and a car you can drive.

The remaining expenses are what I like to call flexible expenses. These are things you buy that can fluctuate in price. In order to account for these expenses, we need to have a budget spending plan. Think of it as a way of telling your money where to go, instead of the other way around. Now these expenses are dependent on your spending habits, but they usually include things like:

GROCERIES/MEAL PLANS
TRANSPORTATION (a.k.a bus passes, taxis, etc.)
EATING OUT
SHOPPING
ENTERTAINMENTS/
PARTYING
 TEXTBOOKS/SCHOOL SUPPLIES
ETC.

For this spending plan to work, you need to set reasonable and realistic spending goals, or else this won't work. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Your future you will be grateful. Always try and get items at the lowest cost possible. Here are some tips for spending the least amount on these expenses. 
7 Tips to Stay Financially Stable in University
1. Buy only groceries you need (plus some snacks), if you need to, 
plan out your meals between grocery trips. BTW brand name doesn't usually 
mean better. Check out this article where they compare brand name
products to their generic counterpart. At the end of the day,
 your wallet will be happier with cheaper item!

2. Set a specific number of times that you'll allow your self to
 eat out and/or buy food on campus. The same goes for 
entertainment (i.e. movies, mani/pedis, etc.)

3. If the weather is reasonable, save the bus fare and walk home from school
 (if you live within walking distance of the university). Your body 
will thank you later

4. For those who are of drinking age and like to go to bars/clubs/etc.,  
instead of buying drinks at those place (which can be pricey at $10/drink),
 I highly suggest pre-drinking/gaming ahead of time. Much cheaper. Same results.
Or if you're lucky to go to school where Greek Life is a thing, 
fraternity parties can equal a free or cheaper night.

5. Keep shopping until stores have their end-of-season sales. Stores usually
 have these large sales about a month or two before
 the season actually ends

6. Get your textbooks at a significantly reduced price on sites like Chegg and Slugbooks.

7. If you can avoid using credit cards, I would highly suggest it. Remember that 
credit cards do not equal free money. If you forget to pay these bills on time, 
it can lead to bad credit, which is not what you need at 20 years old.

After all your expenses have been accounted for, any extra funds should be put into a savings account. That you don't touch. This fund will save you in the case of an emergency. And no, that cute Kate Spade bag you saw on sale at the mall does NOT count. Remember that you also need to keep reviewing this spending plan to make sure you're on track. Staying on track is key, you don't want to miss out on awesome opportunities because you ran out of money. There are many ways to keep track of your expenses. My personal favourite method is making an excel spreadsheet or writing it down in a journal, but feel free to use the best method that works for you. There are many apps available out there that help with tracking finances. I suggest reviewing your spending plan at least twice a month, if not more. I hope you were able to take away some tips from this post. Let me know how you're going to take control of your finances, or if there's something I left out that you think is important.


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