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financial fitness

Student Life

Student Guide on How to Stop Overspending and Start Saving

November 11, 2021

Being a student is one of the most exciting phases of one’s life. Financially, this is the ideal time to experiment with your ideas and get a head start for adulthood. The challenge, though, is how to make ends meet with the limited resources you currently have. After all, just a night of overspending can lead to disastrous results down the line.

Fortunately, there are a lot of steps that you can practice to prevent overspending and learn more about personal financial management. In this article, we are going to share some of them with you, particularly those that we have already tried and tested for years:

1.  Make use of last year’s books.

According to Academic Matters, an average student spends more than $1,000 on books and other learning materials per year. While putting them to good use is the best way to make the most of your investment, there is another way to get (at least) some of your money back. Take good care of your textbooks because you can still resell them for a good price once the school year’s over. Check out your campus bookstore for buy-back programs, or sites such as Amazon or Chegg.

2.  Enjoy savings for this year’s books.

While we’re on the topic of textbook savings, you can use similar tactics for books you have yet to purchase. Look into buying used textbooks or renting them. Many times, you can still. write and highlight in books you rent, so it shouldn’t impact your study habits.

3.  Know your discounts.

Since we are already talking about Amazon, did you know that they have an Amazon Prime student program as well? This allows you to sign-up at half the price of their regular plan, take advantage of significant discounts, enjoy free food delivery, and more.

Meanwhile, Amazon is not the only company that offers discounts to students. Don’t forget other types of bonuses as well. For instance, groceries typically hold late-night discounts for perishable items that didn’t sell during the day. Take the time to find what’s available near you and you might be surprised how a little effort can stretch your dollars further.

4.  Plan your expenses and shop smart.

There are different types of budgeting systems but for students, we highly recommend starting with something simple like the envelope system. It won’t require any expense recording but it will make sure that you live within your means.

Don’t automatically assume that you need to buy everything as well. You will need a lot of things when you’re moving into you’re venturing out into the world for the first time, but don’t think that you would need to buy everything brand new.

There’s no shame in asking around whether your family and friends have some things that you might need just lying around unused, such as old pieces of furniture or kitchen appliances. Other items, like the power tools you’ll need to assemble your own furniture, can also be rented as needed.

We also recommend alternative methods such as point-of-need financing. You can use it to buy bigger educational-related expenses, like a new laptop or a printer. You might even need a small fridge or a microwave for your dorm room. This will allow you to get what you need and pay for them through smaller and more manageable monthly payments.

5.  Explore new interests.

Binge drinking, excessive partying, shopping, and even vaping are all hobbies that are not just irresponsible, they’re quite costly too. Instead, consider exploring fun and inexpensive hobbies!

For example, there are affordable musical instruments that you can start learning how to play. Getting a chess set is pretty cheap and you can spend your whole life contemplating on its 69,352,859,712,417 possibilities and still not master it.

Are you a fan of working out? There are campus gyms that offer free memberships for their students, teachers, even the alumni. The fun that comes with college parties can still be enjoyed, just not overdone!

6.  Take advantage of more affordable forms of entertainment.

A lot of campuses offer free (or really affordable) forms of entertainment such as movie nights, museum passes, and cultural shows. We also recommend skipping a costly cable package. Try a streaming service instead, like Netflix or Hulu. Amazon also offers Amazon Music and Prime Video as part of the student program we have featured earlier. Talk to your roommates and see if they’d split the cost on one or two streaming services for you to share.

In fact, when it comes to music, there really is no need to buy tracks these days. You can simply use free streaming services like Spotify or Pandora.

7.  Share food and space with your friends.

You can further pull down your monthly expenses by splitting the cost of your rent and utilities with a roommate. You can even plan your meals together and share grocery expenses. Splitting the responsibility of cooking and cleaning up is unbeatable!

8.  Review your life skills.

Speaking of cooking, it will save you a lot from eating and spending money on take out. We know how convenient it is, but it is financially smarter to just cook your own dinner rather than reaching for Uber Eats every other day. Save those splurge nights for really special occasions.

Riding a bike is another way to save money in college. Car payments, insurance, parking passes, and gas can really add up, especially if you are on a student budget. If you really need a car, you could rent one for the day or utilize a ride share service. But a bike should be enough if you live on campus or close by.

There are certainly other methods to save money as a student, but the ones we have mentioned above are good points that you can already start practicing. Good luck!

Adulting Student Life

How to Build Credit as a College Student

October 18, 2021

Going to college is all about learning, which includes your studies, but also gaining a better understanding of how to manage your finances. A key part of this is building your credit. 

According to Experian, the average FICO score — a type of credit score — in the U.S. in 2020 was 711, which falls into the good credit score range. Good credit can open up more financial opportunities during college and beyond, including more favorable loan terms and interest rates. 

If you want the benefits of having a healthy credit score, here are a few ways to help build your credit to above-average and excellent levels.

Apply for a student credit card

It can be difficult to qualify for certain credit cards when you’re starting to build credit, but student credit cards typically have less strict requirements. Even better, many of the best credit cards for students don’t come with annual costs and provide valuable benefits — which could include earning cash back on your purchases.

To find the right student card for you, consider the benefits and earning rates being offered. A card might be a good fit if its benefits and cashback bonus categories align with your spending habits and lifestyle.

Become an authorized user

You don’t have to apply and qualify for your own credit card to start building your credit. Many credit card companies allow for authorized users to be added to existing accounts. The account owner controls what the authorized user has access to, including having their own card connected to the account.

The benefit of becoming an authorized user is being able to build your credit with the help of the account owner. As long as the credit account is being used and paid off, you should see your credit start to grow. Talk with a family member or trusted friend about becoming an authorized user on their credit card account and whether it would make sense for you.

Use credit responsibly

An essential part of building and maintaining a healthy credit score is ensuring you always use credit responsibly. For example, it typically doesn’t make sense to carry a balance on a credit card because of high interest rates. Paying off your balance in full each month can help you avoid costly fees and interest charges and stay on track toward your financial goals.

It’s important to use credit responsibly so you can improve your credit score. Part of this includes budgeting for your monthly payments and making them on time — whether you open a credit card or take out a loan.

Add rent payments to your credit report

If you’re the type of person who has renters insurance and always pays rent on time, it could make sense to research and consider using a service to report your rental payment history. 

Rent payments aren’t often automatically included on credit reports, but certain services can help report your positive rent payments to different credit bureaus, which could boost your credit score. Since most college students are just getting started building credit, there’s no credit check for GradGuard’s Renters Insurance.

Consider a credit-builder loan

Apart from credit cards, you can also use loans, such as credit-builder loans, to help build your credit. With a credit-builder loan, a lender will typically add the proceeds to a secured savings account. You’ll make regular monthly payments toward the loan balance, and the money becomes available to you once you pay off the loan.

You have to pay some interest for the borrowed money, but this type of opportunity can be helpful if your options for building credit are limited. Many banks and financial institutions offer credit-builder loans.

Final thoughts

No matter your field of study, having a solid understanding of credit and its potential benefits can help shape your future financial decisions. And if you start building your credit now, you’ll pave the way for unlocking valuable financial opportunities down the road.

BIO: FinanceBuzz’sVP of Content, Tracy Odell, also held the same position at Student Loan Hero and has expertise in this subject, as well as all things related to college finances.