Today I’m sharing my best finance tips for university that helped me budget, save, and make money in college.
Enjoy the tips and don’t forget to get your budget planner below!
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1. Set a Budget
By setting a budget, you know what you can spend! Try to stick to this budget the best you can. By doing this, you know what you should spend weekly, and it will help you not to purge too much on shopping sprees.
However, if you do have a special occasion, do not worry if you go over budget. This happens now and again, and you can just make up for it another week.
Check out this post on How To Set A Budget For College
2. Open Different Accounts
The second on our list with finance tips for university is to open different accounts for different purposes!
Open a different account with your bank and set aside money in this account that you cannot spend. You can keep this money for general savings, or you can set it aside for a certain purpose. For example, I have an account to save money for a house, and one that is my travel fund.
Here are a few ideas:
This is an account, you. cannot. touch.
Like the name says, money in here is for emergencies and unexpected spendings you’ll need sometimes. I usually put 10% into this account as a student.
What you would spend money on from this account would be:
- Anything your insurance refuses to pay
Later, you can either keep the account for emergencies or take the money for your first apartment/house or towards rent.
This account/envelope holds my money I am saving up for certain financial goals. That way, I know my goal and I’m more motivated to save money. Depending on how fast I want to achieve my goal, I save 20-30% into this account.
I am saving for a car right now, but other ideas would be:
- New phone
- An apartment
- New furniture
For both, High School and College students, I would recommend putting money into a “school account”.
Since I am starting college soon, and haven’t saved much for it specifically, I put away 50% into that account. That is a lot, but based on your priorities, you can set that amount lower. I would recommend keeping it at least at 20% though.
This is going to be your “fun” account, where you put everything that is left after your expenses and savings. I would recommend 20%, but just like the other accounts, that is totally up to your preference.
Things you can spend this money on is everything you want but not necessarily need. That could be:
- Any subscriptions like Spotify, Netflix, etc.
- Going out
- Shopping (other than your necessities)
- And more
Related Post: How to Manage Money in College
4. Do a Monthly Review
Doing a monthly review is crucial for understanding your finances and what you spend money on.
What I do at the end of the month is to count my spendings from my bullet journal spread together, and write down how much money CAME IN that month. You can also keep an income tracker if you’d like.
You can then compare how you did that month. Here are a few scenarios:
- Expenses are higher than income
- Income and expenses are equal
- Income is higher than expenses
Obviously, the last one is our goal, so let’s take scenario #1. If your expenses exceed your earnings, you need to first take a look at your expenses, and try to find a pattern over the next few weeks and months.
Are you spending money on “want’s” instead of “need’s”? Or was it just a special month where you had to spend more than usual?
How to solve it:
- Cut down on things you spend money on (we will get to tips later on)
- Build up your emergency account for the months you need more money in
- Increase your income to exceed your expenses
If you are scenario #2, you’re on the right path, but should change some things to escape the existence-based lifestyle.
Here is what to do:
- Look where you can cut down on expenses
- Increase your income
- Save everything that’s left after your monthly expenses (necessities)
For #3, that’s awesome! What to do next:
- You should focus on saving the money that you have left after your necessary expenses to build up your accounts
- Look for ways to increase your income
5. Set Weekly Saving Goals
Next in finance tips for university is to have a goal that you want to save each week! Things are easier when you have goals and it can make you more motivated. Just remember to make them realistic. It doesn’t have to be a large amount; by saving just $10 a week, which would account for $520 per year.
Click here to read 12 Monthly Goal Ideas for Students!
6. Look for Scholarships
Scholarships are great ways to pay for university/college, as mentioned in my 10 ways to pay for college post.
There are different scholarships you can apply for to save some money on college tuition!
7. Use Student Discounts
Student discounts are great ways for students to save some money on things you’d need anyway!
The best student discount is 6 Months Amazon Prime for free!
8. Make Coffee At Home
This tip is more for saving money, but making your coffee at home instead of getting daily Starbucks will save you SO much money.
I know, it’s really hard to give up Starbucks. However, even if you have one less coffee a week, that can save around $4, totaling $200 for the year.
Even better, make all your coffee at home. You can still make excellent coffee, and it can be a fraction of the price. The theory to this tip applies to many things, for example, have water while eating out, and have the beer at home! (If you’re over 21 obviously)
9. Start Investing
I know this sounds a bit daunting at first, but you won’t learn this unless you just start!
Invest your money or store it with the bank for interest. If you’re confident, invest your money, generally, it will provide more of a return than the bank. However, if this is for you, be smart and ask for advice from experts and family members. If you’re more cautious, banks will pay you interest for you to save your money with them. The percentage will vary, but it won’t be a huge amount.
This post by Investopedia explains the basics of investing.
10. Pay With Cash
This tip is a little more unusual but pay with cash when shopping. By leaving your bank card at home, or by only using it for emergencies, you are much less likely to get carried away.
This can be psychological because if you hand over physical money you realize how much you are spending. Also, you can only bring the amount of money you want to spend which makes you stick to your budget more easily.
11. Track Your Spending
I love this tip because it keeps me accoutable and more organized!
Keep a spreadsheet, for example, write down what you spend, and
analyze it at the end of each month. You can track how much you spend on what, and it will help you realize what category you spend too much on.
This might help you to decide what to cut down on, and since you know you need to track your spending, you might be less likely to get carried away.
Here is a post on how to budget, including how I track my budget.
Get the free budget spreadsheet here!
12. Start a Side Hustle
Making money in your spare time is not just great for the extra money, but the money management skills it can teach you!
There are so many different ways to make money on the side, from getting a job to being a freelancer!
Check out job ideas for students here:
- 15+ Ways to Make Money as a Student
- 12 Websites that pay $20/hour to Students
- Ideas for Make Money from Home
- 10 Ways to Make Money in 2021
13. Share Subscriptions With Others
By sharing your Netflix and Spotify accounts with friends and family you save a lot of money!
Sharing these services with people will help cut down on costs, and
usually, they offer options for the service to be used by more than one user for a small fee.
Bonus tip: Spotify, Amazon Prime, and many more services offer discounts for students! Click here to get 6 MONTHS FOR FREE on Amazon Prime.
14. Take Advantage of Your Family
This shouldn’t be sounding weird, but if you are ever in a position where you need money, go to your family first instead of trying to get it from strangers.
No one ever wants to be in a position that they need money, but if you do, ask your family first. It is not a guarantee that your family will lend you money, but if they do this can save you paying interest, and also saving you the panic and pressure.
Always tell them when you will repay the money, however, if you have a generous family, they will be more flexible!
15. Use University Support
If you ever feel like you are struggling with money and you need support, go to your university. My university has a financial support center for example, you can go to them for advice and support, and they will recommend the best options.
They can help with shopping addictions, debt, gambling addictions, etc.
16. Rent And Share Items
Borrow, rent, and share items! No matter if you live alone or have a roommate, by sharing items you can save a lot of money.
For example, do you really need your own hoover? Share it with people who live around you, and the cost will be much less.
Even better, someone has one already? Ask to borrow it every so week, this will save you so much money on many different items, usually, friends will let you borrow them for free but if you feel guilty, take them for coffee every so often!
17. Ditch Disposables
Don’t buy disposable items! By buying one-use items, you will throw them away and have to re-purchase them every time.
Invest in quality items that you can re-use over and over again.
Not only will this save you money long term but it is also better for the
environment! If you want to know more about how to be sustainable check out this guide!
If you’re looking for good sustainable items, read this post with sustainable school supplies.
18. Get a Credit Card
Consider getting a credit card. What?! Why?! You’re crazy!!
There is a reason for this. By getting a credit card and keeping up with the payments, you are building a credit score. In the long term, a good credit card can cut down on how much interest you have to pay on a
mortgage for example.
However, be careful, always pay it off on time, and generally be sensible with the extra income, don’t blow it as if it was free money!
19. Manage Your Debt Smart
Our last tip to manage money in college is to manage your debt well if you have it.
No one wants debt, but if you do, manage it well. That means, be realistic with what you can pay and when, and then keeping up with these payments. Missing payments will always make it worse, so follow the other tips and track spending.
Also, seek help if you need it. If you are realistic with the debt and make a plan to repay it, then you will. You got this!
20. Rent Textbooks
Renting textbooks is a great way to save money and avoid books on your bookshelf after the class is over.
Also, renting is a great way to be sustainable and reduce the demand for new products.
I usually rent through Amazon because of my student subscription, but you can also rent on Chegg for example!
21. Cost-free activities
There are tons of social activities that don’t cost money (or not much money)!
Stay-at-home get togethers or any outdoor activities for example are great things to do with friends or partners that don’t cost money.
22. Challenge for friends!
Next on our finance tips for university list is to challenge your friends to save along with you.
For example, you could do a competition who spends the least on a (each) planned activity!
23. Cook at Home
This simple tip saves students hundreds of dollars a year if not more!
Cooking at home isn’t just healthier and more educational (learning by doing!), but also very budget-friendly. And, you can pre-cook your meals for the week to save time also.
Tutoring in university is a great way to make some extra money, meet new people, and have another good reference to add to your resume.
I tutored German at my US university and it really taught me how to explain things better to others, show leadership, and also make some money on the side.
25. Make it fun!
Finance tips for university really shouldn’t be all boring. Make saving money a fun challenge and motivate yourself to get better and better.
Budgeting well is a journey that even I haven’t finished. I have lots to learn too!
So make it fun and don’t take it too hard if you mess up sometimes.
I hope you enjoyed these 25 finance tips for university and check back for more!
Don’t forget to download your free budget planner and tracker below also:
Mary Jones says
It’s a good idea to create several accounts for different purposes. I keep everything in one and try to save money. But it doesn’t work out well because I’m a spender and if I have money in my account I’m sure to find somewhere to spend it.
Thank you! I am bookmarking this article, it is very helpful to me!
I used to be the same, but having savings accounts really helps me now because I can only transfer money out of them a limited amount (10x a year for free), so it holds me back taking money off of them.