Avoiding debt in college seems impossible. From tuition to college supplies, to bills and any daily expenses in between – expenses can become a burden on your wallet. Unless your family is taking care of your budget throughout the college years (a perk most students don’t have), debt is unavoidable.
The good news is, there are ways to balance your financial demands and still maintain a social life. It may mean you’ll have to skip out on a few things here and there, but ultimately, juggling your debt to income ratio is what it boils down to. Learning how to manage it all takes practice, but once you have it down it’s like riding a bicycle. Simply follow these five practical steps and you should be golden.
Step 1: Join The Masses…
Some people roll out of College as the next big CEO of corpwhatever and some people don’t. Connections and resources play a significant part of this process. So, use them. If you don’t have many (like most students), you’ve got to earn your place in the job market all by your lonesome. This might mean taking a couple of part time jobs bussing tables or simply swallowing your pride and taking a lower income job than you originally anticipated. Whichever case it may be, find something and start earning; the sooner you have money the sooner you can pay down your debts. Don’t let your ego ruin invaluable job experience. Your credit is what’s on the line here folks.
Step 2: Assess Your Finances…
Start tracking your expenses. To make it simple, print out your account balance sheet through your online portal and lump common expenses or common increases into categories. From there, you can begin to identify where your money is being spent.
Step 3: Identify Needs VS Wants…
Now that your account expenses and increases are sorted out, you can begin to sift through what you need and what you can live without. Easier said than done – you’re new to this whole money management thing after all. Start with eliminating your excessive spending habits. Like Starbucks? Who doesn’t… But at $5 a pop, you can buy a bag of coffee and make your own every day versus paying someone else to do it for you. Deciphering these types of spending habits will provide you with some stable ground to grow on and build a budget off of.
Step 4: Create A Budget…
Using simple math, you can determine how much you will need each month. Still unsure? How much does your fixed costs equate to (i.e. what you pay out each month)? If you still find yourself paying more than you’re bringing in, try renting out a room or looking for a room to rent. Forking out a whole paycheck for the months rent will only create headaches. Sharing a home might not be ideal, but it’s the best and quickest solution to getting your finances under control.
Step 5: Balancing Your Pay Check
Not all of your bills will be due on the same day of the month. If they are (which would be an anomaly), call your creditors and request an alternative due date. YES, you can do that!!! Balancing them between pay checks will soften the deductions from your account and leave you a cushion for miscellaneous expenses like gas, groceries or just simply treating yourself for all of your hard work.
Step 6: You Pay Interest First…
Your credit matters, and managing it will get you farther in the long run. If you have a student loan or any type of large financial debt, similar to step five above you can pay on your loan before and even after the due date period (just make note of the grace period and pay within those limits). The more you pay, the quicker you’ll pay off your loan. Here’s a tip: Make 2 payments every month if you can (one on each pay check). If you’re unable to do that, pay more than what’s due when you make the one time payment. Leading by example, if your payment if $250 a month, shoot for $300. Can’t do that? Try $10… Every bit helps and gets you closer to your goal of paying off the loan more quickly. This works for credit cards, house payments and car payments as well. Doubling up pays the interest down, which is the hardest part of paying off debt.
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