College is one of the best investments that students can make during their lives, but can be a costly one. With proper planning, you can make sure that college doesn’t derail your financial health and you can still spend along the way.

Consider our 7 tips below to learn how you can manage your expenses, minimize your debt, and enjoy your college experience with limited financial worry.

 

1. Discuss Tuition Bills with Your Parents

Have an open discussion with your parents about paying for college before going to school. This will keep everyone’s expectations clear. Talk with them about how much they are able to contribute toward college and how much of the bill you are expected to pick up. This will ensure you are all aware of how to break down the payments, the number of student loans that will be in your name, and how much you are expected to pay out-of-pocket after the loans are applied.

Knowing these factors will help you prepare to set a budget for your time in school and see what your financial situation will be after school when repayment begins.

 

2. Borrow Only What You Need

It may be tempting to borrow the max amount available or take out extra loans for spending money, car payments, or housing upgrades. Before doing so, consider how much extra you will pay per month during repayment after school and interest that accumulates on the loan.

Discuss your loan needs with your parents, your school’s financial aid office, guidance counselor, or a financial expert. It is more than likely they will tell you to borrow only the amount you need to cover tuition bills. Find other ways of covering your extraneous expenses as you don’t want to rack up your debt.

3. Look for Student Discounts

Many businesses will offer student discounts, but you often need to ask for them. Always be on the lookout for these deals when you are shopping, going out to eat, or going out for an activity. This can save you a small chunk of change if you use the discounts frequently.

 

 4. Save on Textbooks

We all know textbooks can get expensive, so shop around a bit. The school bookstore typically charges far above what you can find online. Look for used books or rentals to save a bit of cash.

 

5. Set a Budget and Stick to it

Having a fixed amount to spend each semester or month will keep you accountable. Track your typical monthly expenses before setting your budget and separate them into two categories:

Essential Fixed Expenses

  • Groceries
  • Housing
  • Clothing
  • Gas
  • Insurance

Extraneous Variable Expenses

  • Going out to eat
  • Shopping
  • Entertainment and activities

Use this information to create an ambitious but realistic budget for yourself. Continue to track your expenses each month to assess if you are meeting your determined budget. If need be, find a way to reward yourself when you do keep your budget.

6. Find Fun, Free Activities

You don’t need to pay anything to have a good time. Your campus likely offers free activities nearly every day. Be on the lookout for workout classes, movies, or on-campus events for a bit of free fun with your friends. The surrounding community will likely have free events as well if you keep your eye out.

 

7. Earn Money Through Part-time Work or Student Employment

To cover your variable expenses, consider taking up part-time work or a student employment position on your campus. Not only is this a good way of earning extra money, it’ll also give your resume a big boost when looking for jobs when you graduate.

 

It doesn’t have to be painful to keep a budget and save money, you just need to be creative and mindful of your spending. These tips will go a long way toward maintaining your future financial health.

Considering your student loan options? Let us help: Mid-Minnesota has an alternative student loan program that helps students fill the funding gaps that federal aid can leave behind. Check out our website to learn more about the program.