Finding a Financial Balance While Still in School

Posted on Dec 24th, 2015 | Career, College

6848822477_11c5a7dfab.jpgBetween classes, coursework and other school-related responsibilities, finding the time for a part-time job can be difficult. But when you add in the extra expenses for textbooks, rent, groceries and other items you’ll need to survive while taking classes, you’ll probably need one.

Even if you’re already working part-time but find your funds constantly wearing thin, there are ways to maximize your paycheck so you’ll have money to pay the bills plus a few extras. Sure, you’ll be tired from the lack of hours in your day, but your wallet will thank you. Here’s how to get stared.

Open a Checking Account
If you still don’t have one, get one. Checking accounts make it easy to see how much money you actually have. You better open a savings account while you’re at it. Put away a small chunk of your paycheck and don’t touch it. Seriously. If you put just $10 into savings each week, after one year you’ll have saved more than $500. That cash could come in handy, especially when the holidays roll around.

Utilize On-Campus Resources
From workout facilities to discounted concerts, the resources available on campus will save you money you’d have to fork out otherwise. Take advantage of on-campus entertainment, including speakers, shows and concerts. Tickets might not be free, but it’ll be cheaper than what you would normally pay. And why pay for a tutor when you can work with one for free? Writing and math resource centers and tutors for all subjects are there to help you ace your classes.

Become a pro in the Kitchen
I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to have to learn how to cook. And college is the time to experiment, right? Making a sandwich for lunch is much more cost effective than ordering out, and it’s healthier. Try buying in bulk and freezing individual servings of your favorite meals. That way, you’ll always have food available and won’t be as tempted to dine out as often.

Strategize Your Job Hunt
It’s inevitable you need to work, but try to find a job where you can get some extra benefits plus a paycheck. Working at a residential restaurant on campus or at another restaurant could get you a free meal once in a while, or at least some sort of discount. A job at your university’s bookstore could mean cheaper clothing and textbooks, and working in a retail store could get you discounts on a variety of items.

Every Cent Counts
Remember that piggy bank you used as a kid? Time to bring it out of retirement. Saving loose change and small bills will add up over time, and saving that money regularly could give you a nice financial cushion when you really need it.

Needs vs. Wants
Yes, you need food, but you need money to pay your bills each month, too. Do you really need to eat out twice a week? Or buy a coffee on your way to class each morning? By reevaluating the expenses in your life, you can see where you can cut back and your paycheck will last longer. You don’t need to eliminate all of your wants, but reducing how often you indulge will make that extra coffee feel like more of a treat (without the added guilt).

So instead of counting down the days until your next payday, try some of these tips to finance your life like a pro while you’re still in school. You might even end up with a little extra to store away — or spend — we aren’t here to judge.

Photo by 401(K) 2012 via cc