Financial Literacy: Student Daily Finances: Basic

Whether or not you are receiving financial aid for school, it is always a good plan to save money in your daily life. Stop here to learn the basics and get tips to save money every day.

Importance of being money conscious

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Daily or monthly budget worksheet
  • It is important to know how much money you have and how much money you can spend.  Often at the start of the school year, you may have a lot of money from a summer job, mom and dad, or a loan.  Though it may feel like you have plenty and that you can spend money on fun things as well as expenses, it is important to know how much money you will really need for the whole year.  A simple way to figure this out is to create a budget. 
  • Budgets do not have to be complicated or take a long time.  Download a free budget template you can use to get started.  Many others are also available online if you don’t like this one.
  • The key is to be honest about how much money you have and how much you will need to spend on the essentials.  Then determine how much is left over as financially responsible fun money!  
Credit card dos and don'ts

At age 18 students may obtain a credit card tied to a parent’s account.  At 21 students may obtain their own credit card.  While credit cards are a useful way to build credit, there are some do’s and don’ts you should be aware of before obtaining a card.   

Do:

•Ask about or research the terms and conditions.  Not all cards are the same.  Some have annual fees, and some have high interest rates
•Only take out one credit card.  This will limit the chances of over spending and debt.
•Only put charges on your card that you can pay off in full.  This is a good way to ensure that your spending is within your financial means.
•Make sure to make monthly payments on time.  This will help keep your credit score high and limit extra fees. If possible, always pay in full.

Don’t:

•Sign up for that free credit card on campus because they are giving out a free shirt (or other schwag). Be smart and pick the card that is right for you. (how many shirts do you really need anyway?)
•Pay only the minimum monthly balance.  While this may make you feel like you are covering your debt, you will have to pay a much higher interest on the rest of the borrowed money (your balance).  Those $400 of text books this month may cost you $471 next month when you pay off the balance AND interest. 
  •  College Credit: Provides an overview of what you need to know about having a credit card in college and about how challenging it can be to pay credit card debt back.
  •  Student Credit Card Tips: Here are some important tips you should be aware of if you are considering getting a credit card or if you already have one.

Tips for saving money

Saving money doesn’t have to mean doing without.  There are many ways to save money and still have fun!  Here are a few ideas to get you started.  See if you can come up with more of your own!

  • Be Sustainable!  Being green not only helps the planet, it can also help your wallet!  Recycle what you can, this can include clothes!  If you live off campus, turn off lights when you aren’t home.  Keep your thermostat set to reasonable temperatures, and find out how much energy your plug in equipment uses.  Learn more about how to save energy and cash.
  • Challenge your friends to a Budget War!  See who can stretch $20 the furthest!  From Graduate Student Shannon Kaplan: “When I was an undergrad, my friends and I started the first week $20 challenge – see if we could go out every night for the first week of school and spend less than $20.  The person with the most money at the end of the week would win.  This challenged us to find all the best specials, deals, and coupons in town, and it was a lot of fun.  Once school got fully underway, we would go out less, but when we did, we knew how to do it on the cheap!”

checkSome other great tips on having fun on a student budget