Financial Fitness: 5 tips to survive college on a budget

College students being financially savvy is like Kim Kardashian not being trending on Facebook. It just doesn't happen. And, if I'm honest, I personally haven't been the best when it comes to being in the know financially. But now that I've been receiving loans, managing rent, and paying bills I've realized how important being in control of your finances really is.

Being "financially fit" is not something that is taught in school- rather, it's something learned through experiences (both good and bad). So it's up to us as University students to take responsibility of our money and educate ourselves about how to make the best financial decisions- whether that's by having one less drink at the bar or setting up a credit card and learning how to manage it.

This week, I was introduced to Credit Card Insider- a valuable resource for students looking to up their financial fitness- to bring you 5 of my own tips on how to survive college on a budget. In this post I'll be talking about the "big things" you can do to better manage your finances, as well as the "little things" that'll help you save money.

Get informed // If you don't know how your finances work, then how can you start saving money? You can only ignore the sad but true fact that University is expensive for so long before it comes back to bite you. Talk to your parents or a financial representative at your University to figure out how much your tuition costs, how many loans you're taking on, and how much money your parents are contributing. Thinking about your future will really help put things into perspective so that you can start setting both large and small financial goals. Ignorance is bliss, but it isn't exactly productive!

Save your pennies // One of the small financial steps that I take in my everyday life is to keep a jar for my loose change. I mean, how often do you really use pennies? But they are worth something. Any coins that aren't of use to me (under .50) I empty out of my wallet and into the jar. It's surprising how quickly these small bits of change can add up. I haven't decided what I'm actually going to do with this extra money, but it's always helpful when I need change for the bus.

Set reasonable goals- and reward yourself! // Maybe you're not responsible for paying your own rent and loans, or maybe you are. Either way, you can set savings goals for yourself and use at least part of those savings for something fun! As young people, we don't have nearly as many financial responsibilities as "real" adults. By setting goals and rewarding yourself for them, you can practice managing your finances in a small way. One of my personal favorite "rewards" to save up for is a mini vacation! Wherever you're going doesn't have to be crazy expensive, but think about how your currency measures up to theirs. An expensive flight far away might actually get you more bang for your buck once you're there because accommodation and food aren't very expensive.

Be your own barista // It's no secret that college students count on caffeine for their mere survival. Whether it's Starbucks, Costa, or that hipster hole in the wall that only sells "artisan" coffee, everyone has their guilty pleasure. But these places will charge you a lot for something you could easily make at home. And don't even get me started on how much it irks me when people buy tea from one of these places- it's just a tea bag and hot water! Totally not worth the £2. For the best coffee maker out there, invest in a French Press, or my personal favorite a Bialleti to take your coffee making skills to the next level. At just around £20 (depending on size), a Bialleti will give you that pure coffee taste at the fraction of the price of a Keurig, or 10 trips to your local Starbys.

Consider a credit card // Not many students out their consider credit cards to be a valuable way of managing their finances, and most don't tend to get one until they're well into adulthood! However, if you know your options, and are well informed about how to build credit without going into debt, a credit card can be very useful in your everyday life. Learning about credit cards can be intimidating, but Credit Card Insider can help with their student information pages, tailored to the needs of college students looking to get a credit card. Whether or not you think a credit card is in your near future, it's really important to know how they work for when you eventually bite the bullet!

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