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20 Ways Not to Go Broke While Still in College

20 Ways Not to Go Broke While Still in College

If you’re about to head off to high education, or you’re already neck-deep in it and trying to figure out how to avoid going broke, check out these 20 methods that will keep some scratch in your pockets.

1. Employment: Maintain a real or digitally-based job.

Even part-time is better than being broke. If you can, try and secure a job working on-campus before you show up freshmen year, and then do whatever it takes to keep that job throughout college. Those 4 years of employment history will keep some money coming in (that isn’t a loan), and look fabulous on your post-college resume.

2. Budget: Huge slice of life here.

If you don’t learn how to budget money before you get out of college, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s simple. Just figure out exactly how much money is coming in and going out (bills & living expenses or needs). Then, use the wonders of budgeting to steer clear of going broke.

3. Avoid dating.

At the end of the day chasing down lovers is not only time consuming, it costs a fair amount of money. It’s so easy to spend money in an effort to increase your chances, right? Make education and managing your money your top priorities first.

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4. Invest: Invest some money the day before you head off to college.

Put it in something you can’t touch until after your expected graduation date. That way, you’ll earn a little passive income, and no matter how much is in your wallet, that investment means you’re technically not broke.

5. Start a web company.

Get some friends together, combine your skills, buddy up with some computer science kids and start a web company that offers any kind of simple web-based service or product. Create a lean tech-savvy start-up from your dorm rooms!

6. Save: Go into “save money” mode.

Since you’ve decided to master budgeting, dedicate yourself to saving at least 20% of your monthly income. It could either go into a “pay off loans” investment or account, or into a savings account so you have cash if you need it for emergencies or asset purchases.

7. Spend Wisely: You need to protect your money.

Learn that as soon as possible. The sooner you learn this life principle the less time you’ll have to spend wallowing in debt or being broke. See the clear difference between a want and a need. Be aware of why you are tempted to spend money. Don’t spend tons of money one tiny superficial and pointless purchase at a time.

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8. Reduce Loan Principles: Be smart about it.

If you’re taking on loans, read the fine print. Know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and take advantage of all realistic options available to you while in school to reduce your principle. When you’re not paying off the principle, is interest accumulating. If so, this is eating away at your monthly income even though it doesn’t seem like it.

9. Don’t use debit or credit.

There are two schools of thought here. One preaches that college students should use debit and build credit (there are banking institutions on many college campuses now). The other says it’s a bad idea. Debit cards make it too easy to spend money and credit can be vicious! Debit is easy to avoid, and in reality the credit needs for a college student should be almost non-existent.

10. Avoid fees.

Fees are literally everywhere you turn, and if you don’t know about them, you end up paying them. Many can be avoided by simply knowing of their existence. Start making it a habit to be fee-aware and avoid the unnecessary ones. Over 4 years, all these tiny little fees all over the place can really add up.

11. Grow food.

If you’re one of those students that rents a house and you’ve got some yard real estate, grow food! Seeds are cheap, gardening is easy, so it’s basically free food.

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12. Get free stuff.

Speaking of free, get all the free stuff you can and in college–there’s lots of it.

13. Get discounts.

: Students also get tons of discounts of tons of things, but you need to know of their existence and then take advantage of them. Seek them out. Become a bargain shopper in college!

14. Apply for free money.

Apply for free student money–for books, for classes, for tuition, whatever. You would be shocked to see how much money is given away to college kids every year. The trick is finding out about them and then taking the time to apply. Every little bit helps.

15. Hang with other broke people.

If you want to save money and live a lean lifestyle, stick with the like-minded.

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16. Rely on family & friends.

If you are lucky enough to have family and friends to rely on, then do so. Everyone knows you’re trying to better yourself and get ahead in life, so when they offer help, take it.

17. Barter

When you’re in college it’s a great time to start learning how to leverage what you have. When an opportunity to barter arises, capitalize on it.

18. Mobile Usage

Know how much your smartphone and mobile habits are costing you and keep them under wraps!

19. Pay bills on time.

Pay your bills on time, because it can lead to reduced rates, good payment history, better credit and all else.

20. Use the Internet

Set up a profile on one of the major freelancing websites. Become an affiliate blogger while in college. There are countless ways to make money online in your spare time!

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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