#FreshmanFangirls: Budgeting Your Way Through College

Whether you are at college on a full-ride scholarship, or you’ll be paying off student loans for what seems like eternity, college students are known to be the skimpiest when it comes to finances. Being a full time student means that we don’t have time for a full time job, leaving us to either depend on mom and dad for four years, or save up as much as we can in order keep somewhat of a bank balance during the school year.

Open your own bank account

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This might seem silly to some, but I knew a lot of people that did not have their own bank account when they started college. My best friend who I met on our first day on campus had to open one halfway through the first semester because she got an on-campus job, and it caused a lot more confusion then need be. Talk to your parents and help them set you up with one, even if they are co-owners of the account, it will make your life so much easier.

Be careful with credit cards 

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No matter how tempting the Victoria’s Secret or American Eagle credit cards are, they probably aren’t the best idea for college students who have little to no way of paying it off in a timely fashion. Credit cards SOUND great, you get what you want now and pay for it later, but there are horror stories of young people who get into credit card debt they can’t dig themselves out of. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one, it just means you should limit your credit cards to 1-2.

My parents had the idea with both my brother and I, to open a credit card account for us both when we went to college, and pay it off for us while we were there. This established great credit for us when we got out of school, making it easier to get things like loans for car payments and apartments. Although that might not be your situation, talking to your parents or adults that you trust about a safe, affordable way to build credit for yourself is an excellent idea at this time in your life.

Make a grocery list  

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Making a list of exactly what you need before you head to the grocery store will cut down on impulse buys, and in turn, cut down on how much you spend. Wandering the aisles aimlessly, especially on an empty stomach, is never a good thing for your bank account.

Be a coupon queen

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In the social media age, there are tons of ways to save money. Sign up for your local grocery store coupon program, where you get rewards when you use your card, and coupons sent to your mailing or email address. Most grocery stores also have apps that make saving money quick and easy. Also, lots of companies put incentives along with following them on social media. For example, the other day I took a quiz about what kind of skin care products would be best for my skin, and when they gave me the results, they also gave me $3 off the products they recommended. There are so many ways to save money with coupons and incentives if you keep your eyes open!

Be careful with your loan money

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At the beginning of every semester, my school automatically deposits excess loan money into my account, leaving me a few thousand dollars “richer”. But, as I have learned, that money is what you will eventually have to pay back, it doesn’t mean go out and buy VIP tickets to One Direction. If you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure this money goes towards room and board, textbooks, or groceries before you turn it into a shopping spree at Forever 21.

When you write a check, consider that money spent.

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Sometimes when you write checks, the company or person you write them to doesn’t deposit them into a bank for weeks or even months. Don’t take this as an opportunity to spend that money you don’t have. I made this mistake once, writing a check for $100 and then forgetting about it and letting my amount get below $100 by the time the person deposited the check. If you write a check, consider that money gone and don’t use it.

Plan Ahead 

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This might be the most obvious, but make sure you are staying organized and on top of your finances. If you know Taylor Swift tickets are going on sale in 3 weeks, maybe pass up on that meal out with your friends or a trip to the mall. Planning ahead and saving can almost guarantee you’ll get those Pit tickets the day they go on sale.

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Emily
Mega-fangirl for all things boyband, Taylor Swift, & bacon. I find inspiration in traveling, rain, and days spent at the lake, and am obsessed with Kentucky Basketball, the east coast, and Elie Saab fashion. In everyday life I am a college student who is most excited by the possibility of getting Sonic mozzarella sticks & reading real books that you can hold in your hands.

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