Over the past few weeks, I have received FOUR requests for tips on budgeting in college! If you requested this post (or if you're just trying to get your financial life together) this post is for you! If you're feeling a little overwhelmed or underprepared to deal with finances, let me assure you that you are most definitely not alone!
In fact, read these statistics from a recent survey of college students:
- 47% are concerned about their financial situation
- 50% say that the cost of impacted their choice of college/university
- 75% wish there was more helpful financial information available to them
- 80% report they were unprepared and do not have a plan to pay for college
Let me tell you that in grad school, I definitely fell under each of these statistics. It was my first time paying for school by myself and there was a LOT that I had to learn in a short period of time. Here are 4 of the most helpful pieces of advice that I can give!
1 | Don't be afraid of smart debt.
I kind of grew up being terrified of debt and assuming that it was all bad. I paid cash for everything in high school and college. My parents gave me a credit card for "emergencies" but I really only used it when I was out of cash and
It wasn't until I got married and saw how my husband handles his credit that my fear of "being in debt" went away. It's pretty necessary to understand and be comfortable with credit and debt in adult-world and we need to learn how to navigate our way through it confidently. Our unofficial rule is that any acquired debt should have a long term benefit. For example,
Student Loan = College Education = Job Opportunities = Long Term Benefit = Smart Debt
Cute Dress = Gets Worn Out = Gets Given Away = Short Term Benefit = Not Smart Debt
(Side Note: College means saying "not right now" to a lot of cute dresses but that's ok because it will all pay off!)
If you're looking for student loans, check out College Ave Student Loans! They simplify the student loan process that you can spend your time preparing for your bright future! In fact, their sole focus is student loans... which means that they'll break things down and make this as simple as possible for you!
There are several different plans and College Ave will help you find the one that's best for YOU! Not only that, they have more repayment options than anyone else, so you're sure to find one that fits your needs!
Click here to find out more: http://www.collegeavestudentloans.com/
2 | Use an app to help you maintain your budget
There are tons of financial apps out there! My favorite is Mint because it allows you to create your own budget (and adjust it at any time). Not only that, it sends you alerts when it thinks your account balance is low, or when you've had *ahem* "high spending" in a particular category (stop judging me, Mint). I like the fact that I can link my bank accounts to it also so it gives me up-to-the minute information.
But your bank app will also work just fine for updating you! And what if you want to apply for a student loan? Oh, there's a mobile friendly application for that, too! Just head over to the College Ave app, fill in the 4 questions it asks, and you'll get an answer in about 3 minutes! That's pretty painless, right? I bet you have 3 minutes right now! Not surprisingly, this is the fastest and easiest app in the student loan industry!
3| Set up a savings plan (and don't touch what you save!)
A plan?! Yes, please! The one I use is SO easy! Through my banking app, I set up a thing (yes, that's official term) where it automatically transfers $20 each month from my checking to savings account. That's such a small, harmless amount to part with each month, but it still adds up over time. Find an amount that works well for you.
Once that money's in savings, pretend like it doesn't even exist! If you do this amount throughout 4 years of college, you'll graduate with $1,000! And that's enough to buy some real furniture for your first post-grad apartment, to keep stashed away as an emergency fund, or to put toward the payoff of your student loan!
If you're curious about student loans but don't want to commit to anything yet, check out the Credit Pre-Qualification Tool & Student Loan Calculator from College Ave! This will give you an idea of what to expect if you actually get a loan (and I am all about knowing what to expect)!
By using this simple tool, you'll have a clearer idea of your budget for the school year and make better money-saving choices! YAY! It also makes the whole student loan process a little easier to understand by showing you the total cost over the life of the loan and what would be the best payment plan for you!
4| Pay as much as you can as often as you can
I never, ever, ever make minimum payments. Not on my student loans. Not on my credit card bill. Not on my phone bill. Never. Of course, paying your complete credit card balance every month is ideal and will skyrocket your credit score like crazy. But that's not always doable, especially in college.
I try to pay a little more than what's required when it comes to credit and loans. Even just $30 more than the required amount will help you out in the future! This is what I did on every student loan payment that I made. And it made a HUGE difference on the balance over time! Additionally, if you get paid twice a month, pay as much as you can twice a month.
I promise, it's worth skipping a Target trip for! Additionally, College Avenue gives rewards for making in-school payments! That's right, if you choose to start paying your loans while you're still in school (highly suggested), then you'll have a lower interest rate than people who wait till they graduate! And there is no penalty for paying early (a huge plus)!
You can just get as much as you need to help pay your college expenses! College Ave covers up to 100% of school-certified expenses. But if you can pay most of your own expenses and just need $2,000 to get started, they can cover that, too! Check out the low rates, use the tools, and decide what you need to help you succeed!
Okay! Are you ready for an Instagram contest?
Of course you are! Head over to Instagram right now and share your college goals by using the hashtag, you guessed it, #CollegeGoals! :D
Do this anytime between NOW and June 30th and you can win prizes, including a $50 Chegg textbook credit and a $5,000 college scholarship!
Head to Chegg for more details: http://blog.chegg.com/collegegoals/
A huge thank you to College Ave Student Loans and Her Campus Media for partnering on this post!