How to Wisely Manage Your Money While Studying

Image of the 2020 1FCA Financial Champions Scholarship Winner

  Robert Greenberg
  Cornell College
  Civic Engagement

 October 15, 2022 Financial Champion

Unlike the typical American adolescent, I went shopping with friends for the first time in my life during my senior year of high school. The experience was long delayed by my constant reluctance to ask my parents for money. I didn’t realize just how much money I would need to bring and was even more surprised by how fast all the money seemed to disappear in one outing. Before I knew it, I had paid $25 for lunch and $27 for a cardigan sweater, leaving behind only a few coins in my wallet.

I didn’t even have enough money to buy a coffee cup with my friends afterward and had to stand sheepishly to the side while they ordered at a cafe. This experience taught me something that is much more valuable than affording an iced latte: learning to manage your money while you’re still in school wisely.

Reduce the Number of Outings

As a student, whether you’re in high school, college, or beyond, your typical day consists of roughly eight hours spent in school learning and studying. Thus, devoting some time to the enjoyment and hanging out with friends becomes all the more important. While going to the movies or the mall is fun, it’s also essential to acknowledge just how expensive it is when everything is added up.

As I’ve had experienced, money is much less consciously spent when you’re around friends. Therefore, simply cut back on the number of times that you go out together. Rather than eating out every weekend, try once every one or two months instead.

If you’re unwilling to let go of time with friends, opt for a night staying at the dorm to watch the latest movies on Netflix together. Either way, you can save your money and at the same time, balance student life with social life.

Consider Buying Old Textbooks

Another way to remain financially responsible as a student is to buy textbooks off of your upperclassmen and peers. Books can be quite expensive to buy online or at the local college bookstore, and fellow students know this.

That’s why it’s much more affordable to ask someone you know if they’re willing to sell you their textbooks for the class that you’ll be taking next fall. I have also obtained many of my own books by connecting with upper-level students. It’ll be doing yourself a favor by spending less money and your friend a favor by getting an old textbook off their hands.

Keep Your Grades Up

As repetitive as this next advice may sound, invest in good grades. When investing in your academic success, you are investing in financial success. It opens up higher chances and more opportunities to earn merit scholarships and grants. Not all scholarships require a minimum GPA, but some do. That’s why you must allow yourself to meet this qualification to apply and also save yourself some cash.

Furthermore, receiving good grades means that you won’t risk having to repeat failed classes or semesters. It’s important, especially after high school, because you’re paying for every course that you take. Repeating a course means that you’ll be paying for that class again.

Instead, by reducing the money that you must pull out of your personal savings for education, you can direct those savings towards other expenses like food and rent. Going along with this piece of advice is making sure that you fill up your credit requirements.

Different majors require different classes. While it’s okay to make fun and less compulsory courses like “Street-Fighting Mathematics” or “Philosophy and Star Trek,” realize that these are not the courses that are going to help you graduate on time. Recognizing your limits and developing a plan as to how much you can afford for pleasure versus necessity will help a lot in the long run towards financial sustainability.

Know How Much You Spend

Lastly, be proactive about your spending habits. Keep track of every purchase that you make on your phone, academic planner, or anywhere else that you regularly check as a part of your school schedule. It makes it easier for you to notice trends on how often and how much you spend on certain items.

You can then make adjustments accordingly, like spending less money on clothes or movie tickets. Ultimately, you will be able to manage your money much more effectively in the future.

Being a student is hard; I have to keep track of my school assignments and friends and family. It makes it hard always to be aware of balancing my budget, but by making many small and conscientious decisions about my spending and education in the short-term, I know that I am saving up for the long-term.

By taking the time to smooth out the cement now, I am paving the road to my success later, and I hope you will.