For a significant portion of us, college is the first time we’re truly in control of our own finances. What we eat, drink and choose to purchase is completely up to us and for quite a number of people, this can turn into a considerably large problem. Parents, guardians or people who just know more about money than us are no longer immediately accessible when we need advice, ushering in a new and unfamiliar era of self-dependency that can turn sour quickly if a mindful approach isn’t taken to conserving funds.
This is not to say that every single student that steps foot onto a college campus is destined to immediately encounter devastating financial turmoil, but a lot of us rack up quite the bill from daily coffee(s), late-night delivery food and miscellaneous items that we for some reason convince ourselves we can’t live without.
Consulting resources both online and in the environment directly around us can be incredibly helpful in learning ways to decrease spending and become smarter with our income. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to reach out for help but more often than not, those around us who have experienced the very same, or at least similar, situations are eager to offer assistance or advice. A few online resources that are helpful to consult regarding financial tips include forbes.com, studentaid.gov, and nerdwallet.com. It goes without saying that there are numerous others that can be instrumental in assisting our education in the world of personal finance but those are just a few to start.
In the same vein, budgeting apps can be incredibly helpful in not only helping individuals track their expenses but also in holding them accountable. Applications such as Mint, PocketGuard, and YouNeedABudget are all resources that can be downloaded for free and utilized to track the flow of one’s income and expenses as well as uncover trends of unnecessary spending that otherwise would go unnoticed. Some apps also provide you with in-depth guidance on how to formulate a budget and tips regarding strategies to save money. I personally have found this type of application to be more than useful to have on my phone and without a doubt have saved a good deal of money as a result of tracking my spending habits through them.
As someone who is still figuring this complicated and often confusing world of being self-sufficient out, the biggest piece of advice I can offer is as follows: be logical, safe and conservative with your spending but don’t take it to the point where it serves as a detriment to your college experience. Still, go out and live, but do so intelligently and with your future in mind. In the end, college is one giant learning experience and managing your finances is just one of the plethora of lessons you’ll take away from your time at the University of Maine. If anything, just maybe don’t go to the Dunkin’ in Alltown every single day.