Do you feel like you’re frequently worried about money? If you’re a college student, you’re not alone. A recent Ohio State University study found 70 percent of college students worry regularly about how they will pay for school and still meet their other financial obligations. Here are tips for reducing anxiety and forming responsible spending habits.
Identify Sources of Stress
Most college students worry about their finances, but there are different areas of money management that cause stress. Here are the most common areas of concern:
- 60% of students worry about having enough to pay their tuition.
- Half of all college students worry about paying monthly bills.
- Students often report they don’t feel they earn enough from their jobs; the majority only receiving 4% of their tuition funding from work.
- 32% say they sometimes can’t focus on their studies because of financial worries, which adds academic concerns to their stress.
Create a Financial Plan
Once you’ve identified what’s bothering you, take a look at your resources. Students often receive money from loans, scholarships, their family, their job and money they saved before school started. Bills might include both school and living expenses. Knowing how much you have to spend will allow you to create a plan for spending wisely.
Realize it’s normal to feel pressed for funds when you are first living on your own. You’re learning good money management while processing a lot of other things simultaneously. Accept that you might have to do without some of the luxuries you had when you lived at home and make a commitment to yourself to put long-term financial health ahead of your desire for items you can live without.
Look for Discounts on Everything
Before you pay full price, get in the habit of checking to see if you can buy for less. Here are a few examples of ways you can save:
- Rent or borrow books – Check the library to see if you can check out what you need, especially on literature. Look at online retailers to see if you can buy or rent used books for less than what they cost on campus. Online services also offer digital versions of many books you can download for a lower price.
- Pay less for car insurance – If your grades are good, many providers offer up to a 25 percent savings.
- Shop for sales on electronics – Buy your next laptop or tablet during tax-free weekends, or look for open box items at local stores. Dell and Apple offer a discount on products for college students, as do many retail establishments.
- Ask for discounts when eating out and shopping – Retailers such as Forever 21, Levi’s and The Limited offer discounts for online and in-store purchases with your college I.D. and email address. Restaurants, including Chipotle, Chick-fil-A and Subway will also knock some off the price of your meal.
If it’s hard to pay your bills, look for ways to decrease them. If you pay your own utilities, adjust your thermostat a few degrees to cut heating and cooling costs. Catch a ride with a friend as often as possible to save on gas. Make sure you don’t go over on your data limit every month and end up paying costly overages.
It’s a challenge learning to balance school work and finances. The skills you learn during college will help you manage the pressures of adulthood as you prepare for the future.