Tag Archives | money

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Going to college is a top goal on many people’s lists. However, can achieving that goal be detrimental to future plans? With the average student loan equaling close to $40,000 (and some students even owing $100,000 or more), it’s enough to make anyone bat an eye once or twice. It can really make you question whether or not you’ll ever achieve your dreams of owning your own car, house, or business.

Despite accruing an impressive amount of debt, you can still do all those things and more. Here’s how you can plan for major life expenses while still paying off student loans.

Affording a Car

It can seem impossible to afford a car when you have to pay student loan bills on top of your other expenses. That doesn’t mean a vehicle is completely out of the question. Although you may not think your budget has room for a down payment along with various monthly payments, it is completely doable.

With a few strategic adjustments to your finances, you’ll be driving off into the sunset in no time. Here’s how you can start saving for a car while managing student loans:

  • Start With a Budget: Before you do anything, you need to know how much you’re spending every month. Creating a budget will help you determine expenses you can eliminate or cut back on to go towards your car purchase.
  • Estimate Potential Costs: After you make a budget for your current expenses, it’s time to estimate the potential costs of owning car. By figuring out how much you’ll pay each month on car payments, gas, insurance, and maintenance, you’ll have a better idea which car to get and if your current lifestyle can support the cost.
  • Pay Down Your Debt: Depending on how much of your student loans you’ve already paid, it may be wise to lower your balance even more when considering purchasing a car. How much debt you’re in can potentially affect your chances of getting approved for a car loan.
  • Save, Save, Save: Whatever extra money you make, put it aside in a savings account so it can grow and be there for you the day you buy your car. If you’re hard pressed to find money to spare, consider taking on side jobs to contribute to your car fund.

Financing a Home

Now that you have a car, you need a garage to put it in, right? Thankfully, plenty of houses come with one of those. However, now that you have student and car loans to pay, could a house truly be in the cards?

Of course. Like with planning a car purchase, there are different things you can do to make a house payment more financially feasible. First off, you need to be looking at homes you can afford. It does you no good looking at lavish estates that are way out of your price range.

By looking at homes that are within your budget, you can fall in love with the right house instead of pining for a mini mansion that’ll sink you into even more debt. Speaking of debt, the amount you have is extremely important to lenders.

Just like with car loans, mortgage lenders are looking for potential borrowers to have a specific debt-to-income ratio (36 percent or less including the mortgage to be exact). They’ll also be taking a look at your savings and credit score. To give yourself a better chance of getting approved, pay off as much of your debt as you can before you apply.

You can potentially make this easier by decreasing your student loan payments. This can be done by either refinancing your student loans or by changing your repayment plan to be income-driven. Whatever you decide, it’s important to make every student loan payment on time.

Late payments on any debt will hurt your credit score and will lead lenders to assume you won’t pay your mortgage on time either. The better your credit score, the greater your chances are that you’ll be approved.

Lastly, you’ll need to save up for closing costs and a down payment. Closing costs are usually 2 to 5 percent of the price of the house while down payments are usually 20 percent, and both need to be paid upfront.

Building Your Business

It’s the dream of many to be able to work for themselves. However, starting your own business is dramatically different, and riskier, than owning a car or house. The stakes seem especially high when you’re already thousands of dollars in debt with student loans.

Don’t let that deter you though. Many people with student loans have started their own small business, which means that you can as well. If you have two or more student loans, it may benefit you to consolidate them.

Doing so can decrease the amount of interest you need to pay and make it easier to make payments on time. In order to qualify, you’ll need a good credit score and have no defaulted student loans or bankruptcies on your record. Consolidating your loans may also require paying a fee and can affect the terms of forgiveness programs federal loans offer.

Another option is to apply for deferment or forbearance to lower monthly payments. The extra money you save can go towards your small business expenses to get it off the ground and running. Just remember that interest will still accrue even when accepted into these programs.

Finally, you need to work hard and cut or lessen every possible expense. Starting a business isn’t cheap, and having student loan debt makes it that much harder to raise the capital you need. If you still need to work a full-time job while your business is still in its infant stage, then do it.

Move back home with your parents if you have to or live with a roommate or two. Take advantage of public transportation as much as possible. Living frugally and shopping smart not only increase your chances of small business success, but also of repaying your student loans sooner.

Having student loans can make it feel like you have to put your life on hold until you pay them back. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Owning your own car, house, or small business is possible if you’re smart with your finances. By creating a budget, utilizing different loan programs, and living inexpensively, you can live your life to the fullest despite having student loans.

This article was contributed by guest author Devin Morrissey.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

College is an exciting time, but financially, it can be difficult to stay responsible. Living on campus means spending money on food, beverages and nights out with your friends, which can be problematic if you’re trying to save up money for your post-grad years. However, it’s very possible to not only manage your finances responsibly in college, but also to save up money for the future. Here are ten essential money-saving tips for college students:

1. Find the Right Bank for You
It’s important to find a bank that suits your student financial situation. Look for banks that offer student accounts that reimburse you for out-of-network ATM fees or have low minimum daily balance requirements, or open an account with a bank that has ATMs near your campus.

2. Use Mobile Banking
It’s much easier to be responsible with your money when your account balances and statements are just a click away. Be sure to download your bank’s mobile app (nearly all banks have one,) and check your balances frequently.

3. Build Credit Responsibly
Building credit is essential to secure loans if you need them later in life, so use your credit card as much as possible. At the same time, be sure to monitor your card balances carefully; overcharging your card or being late on payments can seriously hurt your credit.

4. Don’t Overspend on Books
Many campus bookstores charge higher than the market price for textbooks, so a good way to save money is to get your books elsewhere. Online retailers like Amazon usually offer books for lower prices, or you can be especially thrifty and buy used textbooks on eBay or similar sites

5. Eat Free
One of the best ways to save money is to take advantage of any food you can get free or discounted as a student. Know your school’s meal plan; if it’s free to eat at the school cafeteria, eat there most days and limit money spent on restaurants or take-out. When you do go out, look for local businesses that offer student discounts, and also keep an eye out for student events that offer free meals.

6. Keep a Strict Budget
Even if you think you’re financially responsible, there’s no reason not to make a budget. Track all expenses on your smartphone and set goals for your weekly or monthly spending. Identifying what you spend the most on can help you reduce your overall spending.

7. Use the Envelope System
The ‘Envelope system’ is a method of setting a budget for the week and placing the money you’ll allow yourself for different expenses in marked envelopes. Calculate how much you’ll need each week on gas, food, etc., label each envelope, and if an envelope runs out, don’t spend more in that category until the next week.

8. Apply for a Job On-Campus
Even if you aren’t receiving financial aid, there are often employment opportunities right on campus. Contact your school’s student employment office to see what jobs may be available to earn yourself some regular income, but do it as soon as the semester starts; many campus positions fill up quickly.

9. Avoid Unnecessary Fees
You’d be surprised at how much money you can save just by avoiding any fees. Avoid ATM fees, for example, by starting an account with a local bank, or find the nearest ATM for your current bank and use it exclusively. You’ll also want to pay off credit card balances or other bills promptly to avoid late fees.

10. Don’t Drive
If you have a car on campus, you’ll want to drive it as little as possible to avoid spending extra on gas. If your college has a ride-sharing option, or rental options such as ZipCars, take advantage of it, or use public transportation in your area if available.

This article was contributed by guest author Hayden Sewart.

Image by Skitterphoto, pixabay.com

You’re on your own now (sort of) and every dollar counts, so Offers.com made a tell-all guide on all the best ways to save, whether you’re heading off to college for the first time, or coming back for your final semester. Check out these 12 little-known money-saving tips below, and watch your savings grow.

1. Take an Inventory of What You Have

The first thing on your path to saving the most when heading to college is to take a thorough inventory of items you already have. Check your house for clothes, school supplies, electronics, and home products to gauge what you own. This will give you a clear view in your mind of the items you need and help you prioritize the bigger ticket items with the smaller purchases you need to make.

2. Never Pay Full Price for Textbooks

Most people know about the increasingly ridiculous prices of textbooks, yet they are absolutely necessary to succeed in your coursework. Dodge the overpriced textbooks from your local university bookstore, and use sites like Chegg to get up to 90% off the original price of your textbooks. And if your textbook order is over $50, they throw in FREE shipping. Money saved + convenience? Sounds good to us.

Plus, Chegg offers 30 minutes of free online tutoring through their trial package, so take advantage and get ahead of your studies while you can!

3. Get FREE FOOD (at places better than your dining hall)

Many students would be surprised to learn how many different fast food stops and restaurants offer FREE food if you know how to look for the deals. Offers.com has a comprehensive category section for the best fast food & restaurant deals. We also have a guide of all 100+ places you can get a free meal or perk on your birthday, so celebrate by cashing in on your special day!

Also, to maximize even more savings, check out Offers list of 100+ of the best student discounts and deals, covering everything from pizza to personal insurance.

You can also download apps like Hooked, a free mobile app for college students to discover exclusive, short-term offers from restaurants around campus – often offering freebies and great deals for food.

4. Stream Music for Half the Cost

Being a student has a lot of perks, including deals on many music streaming services. Spotify offers a deal for 50% off their Premium service for students – making it just $4.99 a month – with a valid university email address. Additionally, Apple Music also offers college students a discounted membership to its unlimited music streaming service for $4.99, a 50% cut from its regular monthly rate of $9.99. TIDAL, the newer streaming service with exclusive content & high-definition music, offers a half off discount for students too.

5. Always, Always Look for Local Student Discounts

Most cities and towns with colleges in them have a variety of merchants offering student discounts on items and services. You can find discounts for movie tickets, beauty and salon services, car services and much more. Just do a quick Google search on “college discounts in ____”, and you are sure to find at least one thing you can save on! You can also find great savings on experience, entertainment and restaurant deals through Groupon.

Offers.com has a list of 125 of the best student discounts, organized by category and savings rate. You can find deep discounts on food, entertainment, housing services and more.

6. Take Advantage of Online Coupons

Most people don’t know that there are hundreds of thousands of coupons online for almost every store and item under the sun. An important factor in saving money when going to college is checking online databases like Offers.com to see if there are any deals on the item you need (there most likely will be). There are online coupons for every category imaginable – like tech, clothing, dorm essentials, and more – so be sure to be thorough before making your purchase.

7. Shopping for New Clothes? Check Overstock Stores

If you want to buy brand name clothes for when you head to college, always make sure to check out overstock stores, such as TJ MaxxMarshalls, and Ross. These stores have amazing prices on quality clothing, shoes, and accessories, oftentimes with deals as high as 90% off. (!!)

And if you’re a real fashionista, you need to stop through Nordstrom Rack or Last Call by Neiman Marcus to get the best savings on high-fashion items ranging anywhere from 20-75% off original market price! Shop the best Nordstrom Rack & Last Call by Neiman Marcus deals here.

8. Know Your Meal Plan Options Before You Commit

Meal plans can be a great way to save on food expenses, but every college and university differs, so it’s important to check your options to get a comprehensive understanding of what you are paying for. Use tools like the MyFico meal plan calculator to find out if your meal plan is worth buying or if it’s just costing you more money.

Many schools require freshmen living on campus to sign up for a meal plan but offer varying plans and budget-friendly options. However, some students say that they save more money by making their own meals so make sure you choose wisely when selecting the plan for you. Most meal plans can even be covered by financial aid.

9. Get Quick Cash in a Pinch

Every college student has had moments where money is tight, and you feel like you’re stuck with no funds. There are several ways to get cash to hold you over for a weekend when money is low. Start by selling your old clothes for cash at places like Plato’s Closet & Nordstrom Rack.

If you have any old textbooks or novels that you no longer need, sell them at a discount bookstore. Most college campuses will have multiple book buyer merchants nearby, and you can always sell them at places like Half Price Books or Barnes and Noble. You can also use sites like Book Scouter to enter a textbook’s ISBN # and automatically see how much 50+ online merchants will pay for your used textbook. Amazon also has a book buyback program, advertising that they pay up to 80% of the value of the used book.

You can also sell items like used cell phones, movies, and video games, so get creative and check that old pile of boxes in your closet to get some quick and easy cash!

10. Set up automatic withdrawals

For discipline, set up an automatic monthly deduction from your checking account and increase the amount you are contributing each year. Better yet, some employers offer the ability to contribute to a 529 savings plan through payroll deduction, so if you have a college job you can automatically start saving without thinking about it. The concept of “out of sight, out of mind” will serve you well when in a pinch for money, and will help you achieve a sizable savings account by the time you graduate. If you don’t plan on having a job through college, set aside a portion of the money from your student aid or parents each month, and you will be glad you did!

11. Apply for a student credit card

Student credit cards are a great way to start building your credit and gain rewards like travel points or cashback payments. Keep in mind, this is only a good idea if you are a responsible spender and never spend more on your credit card than you can actually pay back. A lot of students rack up debt they can’t pay back, so be very cautious when thinking about applying. But if you’re a responsible spender, student credit cards are an awesome money-saver. There are lots of options for student cards, and you can choose based on the different perks and restrictions. Some cards offer cash back on grocery purchases, gas and other daily necessities, and you can often score rewards for air travel and responsible spending. To find out the best card for your lifestyle, check out this handy blog on of a variety of student credit cards here.

12. Know the Right Times to Shop

You may be in a time crunch preparing for college, and luckily, many stores begin to offer sales in August for the back-to-school rush. But a lot of the real quality savings begin around October, when the back-to-school chaos has wound down. If you can, wait until October to buy your new wardrobe, and you will see tons of quality sales – oftentimes up to 50% off the market price in season.

You can find all the right times to shop your big-ticket items and everyday essentials on Offers here: What to Buy Every Month of 2017.

This article was contributed by guest author Carson Yarbrough.


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There are a lot of factors affecting the financial status of young adults. Those who are disciplined and are able to use money wisely end up saving more. They also prepare better for their future. On the other hand, those who have not really thought about how to properly spend their money end up being broke. They also don’t have a stable job.

To begin, it is important to decide which state you should work in, and what kind of job to run after. Regardless of the amount that you are earning, you have to see to it that you are using it for the right purpose. You should also be careful not to spend whatever you earn for things you don’t necessarily need.

After graduating from college, your priority must be to pay off your student loans. It is important that you focus on this debt since it could be a burden for the rest of your life. You must also learn to determine what your priorities are. Never start a family unless you already have a stable job and you feel like you are finally ready to settle down.

Being a young professional isn’t easy, for several reasons. This is why you need to be extra careful with how you make use of your income and ensure you’re not wasting it. For more information on how to save money in the future, check the infographic below. Don’t let days go by without saving enough money for a brighter future.

12 Financial Tips For Independent Young Adults

This article was contributed by guest author Marina Robertson.

Image by annemcdon, pixabay.com

When you’re studying abroad or exploring on your gap year, you’re going to need some money to take care of yourself. It’s hard to work a traditional job while bouncing from place to place, but there are a few jobs you can count on to be there wherever you land. There are even some jobs you can take with you wherever you go – and keep doing once you settle down at your last destination.

English Tutoring

English is the most popular second language in many countries. There are plenty of families that would be willing to pay a native English speaker to tutor their children. Some university students might be willing to pay you for English lessons as well. Advertise your services as a private tutor. You’d be surprised how many people would be willing to take you up on your offer – you might even run into businesses that want your services for their employees.

Remote Team Work

If you had a job back home, you might be able to take it with you. Ask your company if they’ll allow you to do remote work. If you already work with computers a lot, like in social media marketing or customer service, you might be able to do it wherever you go. Your company might have other positions that are open for remote work – you can simply switch over while you’re traveling.

If you don’t already have those options, you can always find a new company hiring virtual team members. A lot of startups or companies with large internet presences are always looking. You might even be able to keep the job if you find that you like it.

Become a Freelancer

Freelancers can work from anywhere. Think about special skills you have. Writing, editing, translating, and social media jobs often fall into the laps of freelancers. You can create your own profile, market your skills, and have people from all over the world hire you to do what you do best. Since freelancing is mostly internet based work, you might want to consider using a VPN. It may not be wise to use public WiFi to supply your freelancing platform with your bank information – anyone can intercept it without an encrypted connection.

Be a Tour Guide

If you’re ready for a long term stay in a country that sees a lot of tourism, you might be able to become a tour guide. English speaking people prefer English speaking guides, because they’ll be able to learn about the monuments and locations they’re seeing on the tour. Offer up your services to popular tour companies. You’ll get to enjoy all of the sights and sounds of your new location while explaining them to others.

Work in Tourism Hot Spots

Hostels, hotels, restaurants, and bars near international airports require a lot of language diversity among their staff. You’ll know what visitors from your home country will be looking for, and you’ll be able to communicate with them. Even if you only take a temp job, these businesses may be grateful to have you for as long as they can get you. You can bridge the gaps and help them serve more visitors.

Variety is the spice of life. If you don’t like a position, you won’t have to deal with it for very long. Travel to a new place, find a new job, and keep going until you find something that works. You’re at a time in your life that’s all about experimentation – find out what makes you happy.

This article was contributed by guest author Sophia Beirne.

Image by FAFSA

Looking for a college, applying, and getting in is complicated enough. But throw the FAFSA on top of that, and you’ve got a recipe for a serious headache.

The FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form which college students in the United States can fill out in order to see if they qualify for financial aid from the government. Even if you think that you won’t, it’s worth doing — there are lots of different kinds of aid: Pell Grants, federal Work-Study, and loans. You never know.

In fact, in the 2014-2015 school year, students left $2.7 billion on the table, unclaimed. And that’s not $2.7 billion in loans — that’s $2.7 billion in free grant money! And this is because over 1 million high school grads didn’t even bother filling out the FAFSA. So, if you’re applying for college, or in college, please don’t leave money on the table. Fill out the FAFSA.

Of course, we get that it seems daunting. But in order to ensure that the hardest part will just be convincing yourself to sit down and do it, the publication College Choice has created a free guide to the FAFSA that walks you through the process, step-by-step, complete with screenshots, FAQs, and definitions. So check it out — you might have some federal money waiting to be claimed!

This article was contributed by guest author College Choice.

Image by StockUnlimited.com

We all remember when we were children, and how exciting it was to find a quarter on the sidewalk, a monetary gift from the tooth fairy, or just pick up a few extra dollars doing chores. But how many of us are still paying off student loans, and wish we could have started saving for higher education back in the day when quarters and wrinkled dollar bills seemed like big money? How can students learn to save while in high school and when applying to college afterward?

Start Young
Parents should teach children to save money for their future. However, parents can only do so much – the individual must learn how to do this for themselves. One way to make this more accessible is to turn saving money into a game. Now that you’re older, challenge yourself to set aside some amount of money — spare change or money from working part time in high school and before college. Use a ledger to help keep track of your funds. Having a written record of your savings helps put it all into perspective when it’s right in front of you. Also, taking the time to write down deposits into your savings account will help you have a greater appreciation for your money and what you’re saving for.

Dreams and Education
What do you want to do? Become a veterinarian? Game designer? Become a mechanic or musician? Browse college and technical school websites to investigate different programs and classes that are offered by schools you’re interested in attending. This will help you see how your education will help you reach those goals — and just how much that education will cost. This will help put it all into perspective and connect the process of saving and applying to schools that you’re interested in attending.

Advanced Degree, More Saving
According to FinAid.org, if parents begin saving in a fund that gives at least 5% interest, over 17 years they can accrue almost $35,000 — nearly enough for the average MBA — just by putting aside $25 a week from birth. Whether you plan to get an online master’s degree in public administration or an MFA from a top liberal arts university, saving for an advanced degree such as a master’s takes particularly careful planning. If you’re old enough to know if you want to pursue a master’s degree, and old enough to get an after-school job, you’re old enough to help contribute to those savings your parents have started for you.

Don’t Count on Financial Aid
Even if a student is eligible for financial aid, they could be picked for verification or experience some other delay in receiving their award. Thousands of students every year find themselves having to pay out of pocket to secure their classes until their financial aid comes through. As you get older, understand that it is important to not only complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but to have funds to pay for your tuition just in case financial aid is delayed or denied.

Students can help themselves learn the principles of going without to be able to save for their future to make it that much brighter and more accessible.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.

Image by Fabian Blank, unsplash.com

Image by Fabian Blank, unsplash.com

An independent and fun-filled life is the fantasy of every college student. However, with the limited financial budget of a student, this fantasy remains just that – a fantasy. Moreover, college loan repayment is another obstacle that not only prevents this kind of life for students but also prevents them from investing independently and earning rewards to help financially support them.

1) Freelance
As a student, there are many ways to earn money. Content writing is one huge field that has helped many students. With a lot of freelance websites in motion, students can grab work that interests them, write articles and earn by selling those. Students can also start their own blogs and earn money through them.

2) Be A Tutor
If a student excels in English, they can earn by proofreading and editing articles of their peers or by becoming tutors. Teaching is the best way to excel in a subject and by becoming a tutor, students can earn, polish their own skills and knowledge and be a valuable service to those around them. Schools usually have teaching assistant posts or a campus tutoring center available where students can take the role of a tutor.

3) Become a Notetaker or Sell & Textbooks
Students with learning disabilities are provided with note takers that are compensated fairly well, and by taking up such a position, students can not only help their peers but also earn for themselves. Selling text books at the end of the term is another way income can be generated. Textbooks are a huge expense for students, so many look out for used books from seniors. Approaching such students results in a win-win situation for both parties.

4) Get a Part-time Job or Internship
Most universities and colleges have a career counseling department that provides students with opportunities to work with local or multinational companies. Students can look out for such internship / job opportunities and work part time. This would build their resume, provide them with adequate experience and help students make money. On campus jobs such as waitressing or administrative work in various departments are also available that help students to make money. Usually, students also participate in paid interviews, surveys and medical experiments that add cash to their wallets.

For most students, having cash to spend freely is a major issue; not only during their study years, but also after graduation. This is mainly due to the high amount of interest they have to pay on student loan repayments. While some students have their repayment strategies chalked out, most do not care to think about it until after they graduate and the grace period has almost ended. Hence, having made some money while studying at college can be a huge advantage for every student while at college and even after they graduate.

Earning while you study can also reduce your dependency on student loans, resulting in fewer repayment problems and reduced interest payments.

This article was contributed by guest author Henry Kingston.

Image by Tax Credits, Flickr

Image by Tax Credits, Flickr

College represents the conscious decision to take education further than is required by the government. It gives students the ability to learn more than just the basics, which in turn allows them to forge ahead on their chosen career paths.

The problem is that the cost of college has been rising steadily. CNBC reported that the average cost of college has risen by 300 percent since 1971.

The most troubling fact is that cost continues to climb.

Let’s explore some of the options that students have for paying their way through college. These include common strategies and a few creative answers.

1. Federal and State Assistance

FASFA offers federal financial assistance with regards to the cost of college tuition. States tend to offer similar financial aid for specific groups of students.

While this seldom pays for the full cost of college, it can dramatically lessen the financial burden that higher education can place on a student.

The downside is that this assistance tends to be limited to undergraduate students. Graduates will need to use a different method of financing to pay for their education.

2. Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships represent another well-known way to help a student finance their way through college. These are typically awarded on an as-needed basis or as a reward for academic or charitable achievements.

The major problem with this source of funding is that generally only a few students receive it, which in turn means a certain amount of competition is vying for funding.

The other drawback of this method of financing is that it tends to be limited. Seldom are these forms of funding enough to pay for tuition fees, and even more rarely do they pay for other necessities like books and lodging.

3. Student Loans

Student loans have become a necessary evil in the world of education. They are notorious for putting students into an overwhelming amount of debt before they even have their first professional job secured.

One trick to minimizing the impact student loans have on your life during and after college is to minimize costs as much as possible. Certain low-interest loans exist that make it possible to pay 2 percent or less on interest during school, and between 3 to 7 percent after graduating.

4. Cost-Effective Alternatives

Another viable strategy for funding yourself through college is to seek a more cost-effective approach to education. Some courses, such as online engineering programs from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, allow for a more cost-effective approach to education.

Tuition for these programs tends to cost less than similar programs due to the lack of physical presence required by instructors, and the automated coursework. While more cost-effective, they are just as robust as a traditional college education.

Finding the Money for a College Education

College is one of the most expensive investments. It can cost more than a home, but it can also provide for your entire future.

By following the funding strategies listed above, you will help make college into something that you can afford, regardless of the field you choose.

This article was contributed by guest author Anica Oaks.

Image by luxstorm, pixabay.com

Image by luxstorm, pixabay.com

We all have experienced “being broke” in college. What with high expenses on textbooks and social activities and limited income, it’s unusual to find a college student who isn’t financially strapped in one way or another. While some things may not be in your control, managing your finances in an effective way may help you have a little extra cash to keep you sustained through periods of heavy spending. Here are four steps to help you get your finances in order:

1. Make a Budget

Budgeting is key to keeping track of your money. You always know where your money is going and how much you have left over in case of unplanned spending. Once you get the hang of it, budgeting becomes a natural habit, and is actually quite easy. First, make a note of all your current spending for a fixed duration, say, a month. This will help you determine your usual spending habits. After you have determined your spending patterns, compare your expenses to your income, and note down areas where you can cut down spending.

Budgeting apps like Mint are extremely helpful when it comes to being able to access your budget anytime. Remember to always allocate an amount for miscellaneous expenses that don’t fit into your regular spending. Whether you use this amount is immaterial; if you experience a period of necessary high spending (say, buying new textbooks), this amount will come in handy.

2. Have Goals

Having a goal will motivate you to stick to your budget. It will prevent you from randomly spending on unnecessary things. Set aside a small amount of your paycheck/allowance each month to go towards fulfilling this goal. At first, you won’t enjoy setting aside money that could be used elsewhere, but after a while your funds will start building up, and you will begin to appreciate the little bank you’ve created to meet your goals.

3. Save where you can

Opening a savings account in college is a wise investment. Over time, the money in your savings account will accumulate and earn interest. In any particular month, if you spend less than your budgeted amount, be sure to put the remainder of your money into your savings account rather than binge-splurging. You’ll see more growth in your savings account over time. Other ways to save include making changes in your daily habits. For example, if you spend a lot of money on your car, consider learning some auto-hacks, such as gas savings or using the bus more often. Take packed lunches to class rather than buying food, and make your own coffee in the morning before class rather than grabbing one at a coffee shop. At first it doesn’t seem like much, but these changes in your daily routine do add up!

To increase your savings, you can also consider various ways to gain supplemental income. Today, we live in an age of constant connectivity, meaning that you can work from practically anywhere. According to this infographic, 61% of American homes had wifi in 2012. Since then, the number has only gone up, creating more opportunities for online work. As a student, you could tutor online, write for paid blogs and magazines, and even do surveys to boost your income. These are opportunities that don’t require you to travel far, and won’t take up much of your time – but will get you some quick cash.

4. Plan for the long term

It’s always good to keep the bigger picture in mind. Even as a student, it’s important to consider the future at some level, though it doesn’t have to be your top priority. Long-term planning includes having a savings account, a retirement and pension plan, and long term insurance. For example, if you know you would like to retire abroad, it is vital to factor this into your goals after college, as research shows that retiring abroad can be quite costly. When following through with the required actions to achieve your goals, you’ll want to keep this in mind. As a college student, you may not be in a position to actively plan for the future, but it is good practice to make a timeline that incorporates the long term, such as paying off debts or when you will start saving for retirement. This way, you will be well-prepared for the future. Even though long term planning can be tedious, it will hold you in good stead through the years.

Using the four basic principles of budgeting, goals, saving and long term planning, you can start to get your finances in order. Even though you won’t have much money to deal with as a college student, understanding and utilizing these concepts will help you both now and later.

This article was contributed by guest author Akshata Mehta.