It’s a well known fact that college students aren’t usually the most financially stable people around. Tuition is expensive and time is short for working full time. Put those two together and you’ve got a recipe for a ramen noodle budget. There are some things you can do to make sure you’re making the best financial decisions for yourself no matter how strapped for cash you may be.
1. Document expenses
Keep track of everything you spend money on, no matter how small the cost may seem. For example, if you spend $3 on coffee every week day, that adds up to $780 per year. Make sure you account for even the smallest expenses or you could come up short in your budget. Which brings me to my next point:
2. Make a budget
And stick to it. That second part is the hardest but also the most important. Making a plan for your spending and accounting for every dollar is the best way to stay on top of your financing.
3. Use loans and credit sparingly
Borrow the very minimum amount that you’ll need for school even though you may be offered a higher amount. Talk to your financial aid advisor when you receive your award letter to ask for a smaller amount. Only borrow what you need. Similarly, only use credit cards when you are sure you can pay off the balance at the end of the month. No one wants to graduate with a load of debt.
Let’s face it: you’re busy. But this doesn’t change the fact that your textbooks cost an arm and a leg, tuition is rising constantly, and you still need to buy groceries this week. How are you supposed to keep up with your studies as well as your expenses? Here are a few ways to make extra money without letting your grades suffer.
1. Work Study Programs
Most colleges have employment opportunities specifically for students. Work study programs usually subtract your pay from your tuition bill. A few hours a week working at minimum wage doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. The best part is this work can usually be scheduled around your class schedule so it won’t interfere with your studies. Check with your financial aid office to see if your school offers programs like this.
2. Sell Unwanted Items
Whether it’s clothes that you don’t wear anymore or your old guitar that, let’s face it, you haven’t picked up in years. There are usually plenty of things lying around your dorm that you have no use for anymore. Like the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Snap a few clear, well lit pics of your unwanted items and list them on eBay for a small fee (this fee is so small, you probably have enough change under your couch cushion to cover it). Another wonderful platform for selling clothing is an app called Twice available here. With this app you can sell your gently used nice clothing.
3. Start a Side Business
Okay so maybe this one is a bit more time consuming but with the right work ethic, you’d be surprised how easy this can be. This doesn’t have to be a full- fledged business venture. You can make a decent amount of money mowing lawns or painting houses over the summer. If you have a knack for crafts, you could also make and sell handmade items such as jewelry or paintings at craft fairs or with online marketplaces such as Etsy.com. Similar to eBay, with Etsy you can pay a very small fee to list your handmade treasures for others to purchase.
Whether you choose work study or cleaning out your closet, there are simple ways to earn some extra cash while also taking some of the strain off your parents to cover your tuition bill. What other ways do you make extra money for college? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!