Money Management Tips for College Students

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A new college year has started and students are back on campus learning to balance study, fun, and work. They are gaining new independence and responsibility.  College is also the time when students start to practice real money skills, manage money while in college, and learn sound money management tips. Whether they work part-time, college is mostly paid for, or student loans postpone the day of reckoning; students can learn about budgeting, the difference between needs and wants, living within your means, stretching a dollar, planning for future bills, and managing money in college. They have plenty of opportunities to apply one of my favorite financial principles which is how to avoid paying full price.

Smart Money Moves for College Students

I suggest the fundamental money management tip for college students is to have two financial accounts they control: one for textbooks and one for daily expenses. The textbook account can be funded by small, private scholarships, birthday money, and working part-time. Students should balance getting new money into the account, making it last, and trying the various ways to get textbooks cheaply outside the college bookstore such as renting, getting used books, and using online books.

Money Management Tips for College Students

The daily living account could be funded by a monthly allowance from parents put directly on a pre-paid debit card of say $40-$50, or more if living in an apartment and buying their own food. This can cover clothes, fun, snacks, small fees, transportation, etc.  I recommend a pre-paid debit card whenever someone needs an easy way to budget spending money. It can be loaded with a monthly amount online, used like a credit or ATM card, and spending stops when the card is used up. It is convenient for parents to transfer money and students to use.  This is a great way for students to juggle needs and wants, learn how to make finite money last to the end of the month, plan for future needs, be responsible for their own budget without constantly asking for parents’ cash, and lay the foundation for applying money management skills while still in college.

Regardless of how the big tuition and housing bills are paid, these separate financial accounts work well for managing money and learning sound financial principles while still in college. 

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