Moving away to college will present a major lifestyle change for most students (yay, freedom). But living on your own will also become an enormous responsibility (bills, boo). To ensure that the transition is a bit more smooth, start learning these money management strategies now.
Use a calendar or app to plan bill payments. Late payments can result in unnecessary fees or even the termination of certain services (like your electricity or phone). To avoid the hassle of disconnected utilities and high penalties, start practicing your budgeting skills now. Use a calendar or budgeting app to track payment dates for your cell phone or any other bills for which you’re responsible, and learn how to prioritize bill paying so that you don’t run out of funds.
Research your book options. If you rush out and buy brand new textbooks from the school bookstore each semester, you’ll waste a ton of money. Begin to learn your different options now, such as buying used, shopping on Amazon, or accessing digital downloads. Look for textbook swaps online and check for off-campus bookstores near your intended university.
Enroll in the right meal plan. If you plan to avoid 8:00 (or even 9:00) classes like the Plague, is that because you’re just not a morning person? If you won’t make it to the dining hall in time for breakfast, then there’s no need to purchase a 3-meal-per-day plan. Investigate how much money you might save by purchasing your own breakfast cereal, oatmeal, and so on.
Research on-campus entertainment options. Browse your school’s website or Facebook page to learn about on-campus activities. You can save a ton of cash by attending free events, and avoiding the high price of movie tickets, concert admission, and so on.
Learn how credit cards work. If you’ll be taking a credit card to school, make sure you understand how interest is computed. Take a closer look at your card’s fee structure, too, so that you know the consequences for late payments. We know your parents have probably managed this for you in the past, but the sooner you can learn and take some accountability, they better off you’ll be.
College is a great time to learn, not only in the classroom but life, social, and financial skills as well. Sooner or later you will definitely need financial “smarts” and starting to develop them now will serve you well throughout your life.