Money is limited when you’re a college student. Between tuition, housing and feeding yourself, you’re likely to be living on a tight budget. This can make the holidays tough. You’ll likely want to buy gifts for your friends and family, but you may not find the funds.
As a freshman, learning to keep track of your own expenses and spend accordingly is a whole new ball game, and it can be daunting... unless you're prepared. Luckily for you, that adjustment period is long in the past for me, and I’ve compiled a list of the best tips to keep your finances in line.
1. Make a budget
You’d be surprised how often this is overlooked (or ignored). It’s critical to know exactly how much money you have available before you decide to start spending; keeping a budget can help you keep track of all of your expenses from bills to groceries, so you’re able to set limits. During the holidays, your budget should include a maximum amount you’re willing to spend on each person. Commit yourself to following it.
2. Make Amazon your best friend
You can’t go wrong with Amazon, especially around the holidays. It took me a few semesters to understand just how much I would grow to love it, and it honestly changed my life. Don’t underestimate just how much you’re able to save(and how many items are available on the site. Whatever gift you’re searching for, try Amazon first. And don’t forget about it when textbook time rolls around! We’re in college; we shouldn’t be buying full-priced items.
3. Be careful with your credit.
Some of the banks in Gainesville offer great deals college students to open credit cards; this can be great if you’re careful. Building your credit is crucial and now is a good time to start, but don’t your bill get out of hand. Being a broke college student can make paying off the card tough. Use it as a tool to build credit, not to spend money you don’t have. Basically, you shouldn’t buy your girlfriend that $300 purse she’s been wanting on your card without having available funds to pay it off (no matter how much she begs).
4. Get a job
I’m willing to bet you’ve heard this one before. Flexible, part-time jobs are incredibly easy to find around the holidays. Even if your position is only seasonal or you only work a few hours a week, the extra income is helpful. Remember that your academics are the priority and your job shouldn’t minimize the effort you’re able to put into your courses, but the additional cash flow can make a huge difference for a starving freshman.
Yes, you read that correctly. Save even if you’re only able to put back $25 a month. You’ll start learning good money habits, and every little bit counts. The earlier you start, the better.
6. Plan ahead
Being in college should be some of the best years of your life, but that might not happen without money and a plan. Set priorities about your spending, and know in advance when you’d like to take trips or do holiday spending. Use your budget to prepare your financial situation ahead of time.
For other questions about Gainesville or the college experience, submit questions through this form, and we’ll try to get provide a response in the upcoming Alligator blogs. Next week is our last post of the semester!