Financial Survival Prep Guide for Students on a Shoestring Budget

Whether you are a student feeling the pinch of debt and itching to get a little bit to spend at the bar, or you’re trying to make ends meet and study too, stretching scholarship money, online credit rates or juggling part-time jobs, it’s prudent to have a financial map in place so you can navigate life more easily.

Since Jill Stein didn’t win the election and there is no other way student debts are going to be magically waived, you are probably better off pulling those shoestrings together tight. Forking out some extra bills for a weekend trip or working up a tab at the bar – these expenditures can quickly add to your overall spending. Here are a few practical tips to help you get through what could be the most exhausting but equally exhilarating part of your life — without burning yourself out.

Be a ‘Smart’ Budget Manager

Budgeting and tracking finances have never been easier than in the current times, what with the myriad options available in app and software expense tracking. Ration your expenses to your various needs like food, gas, rent, etc., and track them individually. The software varies in range from simple everyday budgeting to complex interest and investment tracking. Choose one that best suits your needs. Here are some of the most used and highly rated apps:

Level – Level is a free Android-based personal finance tracking app that allows you to picture your expenditures using an amazingly simple interface.

Mint – Mint allows you to categorize your spendings individually, so you can keep tabs on where your money goes and can adjust accordingly.

Saved Plus – This app goes one step further and lets you transfer your savings directly into the safety of your savings account before you change your mind.

Planned Meals

Visiting the diner or grabbing a quick coffee with friends after class can easily add up to considerable amounts of money spent over the long term. Also, get into the habit of looking beyond labels to identify healthy frugal alternatives to branded products. Oftentimes they can be just as good from a quality standpoint, and they can be much easier on your wallet. Planning simple meals can mean not only that you are saving up, but you’ll be sticking to more nutritious foods compared to greasy diner food.

Credit Card

This can be a bit sticky. You want to build a good credit history, but credit cards can easily lead to overspending and put a big kink in your savings. Choose your credit card wisely, read through the fine print, and go for the one with the best interest rates, reward points and long-term offers. If you are really focused on being careful with your expenditures, you can subscribe to a few recurring services or software like Netflix or anti-virus software that will charge your card every month. Then cut up your card so you don’t use it at a weak moment.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts

This is a fun area where you can flash your student ID and get discounts on everything from restaurants to trains to clothing stores. But be careful on this front and avoid buying things solely because they come with discounts. It would be wise to check for student discounts on things that you already need to buy and take advantage of those offers. College will be over before you know it, and your debt might be a huge issue chasing you around for the next three or four years. With some smart decisions early in your student life, you might be able to save a lot of time and trouble later on.

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