Lafayette Federal Credit Union
Vice President, Business Development
Back-to-school season is upon us, and a new semester means new expenses. Saving money in college can be difficult, but finding smart ways to budget and save is an important step to avoid piling debt in college. Help yourself (and your finances) by implementing new budget habits to your fall routine this year. Read below for five easy tips on how you to maximize your savings this semester and beyond.
During the school year, your money probably goes towards a lot of different things. Whether it is spent on clothes, food, textbooks or social outings, these expenses can certainly add up quickly. One of the most important ways to begin smart saving in college is to be cognizant of your spending habits. This means knowing your spending habits and paying close attention to the things you divulge on. Each month, dedicate time to review your account statements and transaction history. You may find that a larger portion of your money goes toward a specific expense, one that may be excessive and could be cut back. Comparing these amounts and seeing how they affect your monthly budget can help you determine what financial habits may need to be altered, both while in school and after.
We’ve all heard the cautionary tales of opening credit cards in college. Contrary to popular belief however, college can be a great time to start building credit. Having a credit card when you need it can come in handy during the year, especially when you plan smart with your finances. Starting small and using your card for a few minor expenses a month can help you purchase the things you need, while still maintaining a manageable balance. Opening a credit card account is also offers the opportunity to start building your credit score, and gain new practice with borrowing. Many credit card companies offer a variety of different benefits to members, like a Lafayette Federal MastercardOpens in New Window that allows you to simultaneously earn reward points with each purchase made. Be sure to inquire about any rules and restrictions before you submit an application.
Put your education to work for you! Eliminate some of your financial stress and take advantage of student deals and promos. Many business and organizations offer special discounts on their services and subscriptions, from ad-free music streaming to premium online shopping memberships – just for being in college! For most of these offerings, your only requirement is to prove your graduate or undergraduate status (items such as university emails or an image of your college/university ID card is usually suffice). These money-saving discounts can help you save big during the year, at no additional cost to you.
Being on the forefront of your expenses is an important part of avoiding debt. By figuring out how your money will be spent ahead of time, you can make sure you have the funds to afford your different priorities. Part of mapping out this monthly budget is identifying your fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses include fixed set costs, like rent or internet, while variable expenses can fluctuate month to month like, groceries or gas fees. Identifying these costs (estimating for variable costs if necessary) can help you put aside accurate amounts in your budget. A useful tip for getting into the habit of this is to invest in a financial planning notebook, a journal dedicated specifically for budgeting and managing your funds. Many of these journals offer sections for keeping track of your daily spending, allowing you to gauge how much you spend on an average day. Having a separate notebook can motivate you to get into the habit of monthly budgeting in a fun, organized way.
Life is full of unexpected situations, and the last thing you want is to be unprepared for an emergency. When planning out your monthly expenses, be sure to have a portion set aside for any rainy-day situations. This can include things like family emergencies, medical bills, or any other situations where you might need money fast. One of the easiest ways to maintain this fund is to open a savings account. Having an account like this can help keep your money safe while earning a specified dividend or interest rate. With a Lafayette Federal Savings AccountOpens in New Window you can securely set aside and earn a great rate from over time. Open one today!
Once you start attending college or university, it may be compelling to stop applying to scholarships. However, this practice can cause you to miss out on some valuable earnings during the year, as there are opportunities for current college students! This is a great way to help you minimize your costs for later semesters and start minimizing student loan debt early. It can also help take some weight off your tuition and provide more room in your budget for other things. Simple tasks like turning on email notifications for outside scholarship offers, or periodically checking your school’s financial page can help you get into the consistent habit of putting yourself in the application pool. Requirements vary, but some scholarships offer money for tasks as simple as answering survey questions or creating an account with their website online. Just like with your monthly budgeting, setting aside time to research scholarship opportunities can go a long way in maximizing your savings.
Getting an education is undoubtedly an expensive venture, but you can do your part to minimize your student debt, cut back on general expenses, and maximize your savings. Implementing these tips can help you save big this fall and beyond! Take advantage of our Savings AccountOpens in New Window, Checking AccountOpens in New Window, or Mastercard Credit Card before your start back to school and get on the road to maximum savings.
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