Going to College on a Budget: 7 Tips for Managing Your Money the Right Way

The academic and social demands of college can keep you from making the best decisions about your finances. Without carefully taking into account all of your costs, you could end up graduating with more debt than you expected and without the funds to give yourself a healthy start to your career. Creating and sticking to a budget will help you stay enrolled in an affordable degree program while avoiding unnecessary spending that can hold you back from your educational goals. Follow these money management tips for HBCU college students to help ensure your future financial success!

1. Establish a Budget

You cannot control the flow of your money coming in and going out if you do not have a budget. Your budget shows exactly how much money you bring in each month and where each dollar eventually ends up. Your budget should have categories for food, housing, transportation, school supplies, medical care, entertainment, and savings. Make sure to assign a particular dollar amount to each category to align your budget with your overall financial goals.

2. Buy Used Textbooks

With the cost of textbooks rising every year, you can save a lot of money by making wise purchasing decisions. You should try to buy used textbooks or even utilize online PDF files to access the documents you need for your classes whenever possible. Make sure that any new textbooks does not include an online access code before you try to buy a used textbook. If you buy a used textbook, or decide not to buy books altogether, you may have to buy the online pass anyway to do certain assignments in that class.

3. Make Food Prep Fun

Grocery prices have actually gone down this year, and with restaurant prices continuing to rise, it just makes sense to prepare as many meals at home as you can. Unfortunately, the time it takes to prepare your meals and clean up afterward can eat into your limited free time. You can keep your money in your pocket without sacrificing your social life by making food prep fun. Have potluck dinners where everyone brings a dish or plan themed lunches with your friends and classmates to ensure everyone can eat well while saving their money.

4. Utilize Shared Housing

While living alone has some benefits when you need a quiet environment to study, it’s not the best option financially while attending an HBCU in Arkansas. You can save a significant amount of money by choosing to live on campus or by having roommates or family members to share an off campus apartment. With shared housing, you can enjoy a built-in supportive community to team up with for food prep, cleaning tasks, study times, and social activities.

5. Weigh Your Purchases

You should weigh the pros and cons of your purchases to avoid carelessly spending money on things you do not necessarily need or that could be purchased at a later date after you save up for them. Take the time to plan ahead for any big expenses. You can set a long-term budget and place money in your savings account each pay period to spread out the cost.

6. Smartly Utilize Credit

Credit cards can help you save money by providing rewards and great deals. But, it also feels easier to spend more when you have a credit card. Use your credit card to buy things you can actually afford to pay off quickly to avoid paying interest on the balance. Make your purchase and immediately pay off the balance to obtain your rewards, skip the interest, and build your credit. If times get tough, re-evaluate your budget before ever trying to max out your credit card or get a second credit card.

7. Minimize Reliance on Loans

Financial aid for an affordable degree program can help you cover tuition, textbooks, and some of your living expenses, but you will want to keep your debt manageable after you graduate. Many HBCUs like Arkansas Baptist College offer a variety of scholarships, grants, work study programs, and other financial aid options that can help you cover all or most of the costs for an affordable degree program. Good money management usually ends up being a test of your willpower and ability to plan for the future. Applying these money management tips for HBCU college students will give you the best opportunity to complete your degree without excessive debt.

If you are interested in enrolling in an affordable degree program, contact Arkansas Baptist College today at (877) 643-5390 to learn how we can help you achieve your educational goals.


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