Finances Before, During, and After College

It’s a well known fact that being a college student comes with being “broke” but it doesn’t have to. Finances are often stressful and overwhelming especially in a time where everything in your life is changing like moving out of your parents house and to a new city, making new friends, and all new experiences. It’s too exciting of a time to let money get you down. We have constructed ideas of things to do to set you up for financial success before head off to college, while in college, and after graduation day.

Steps to financially prepare for college:

After the applications, scholarship essays, and all the things leading up to college, consider adding these to your to-do list.

If you haven’t done so already, open a checking account

Opening a checking account makes spending, tracking your expenses, and managing your account so easy. Opening a checking account at WCU you will have access to your account 24/7 through out mobile app and online banking.

Research the college you are attending and the surrounding areas – this well help you gain a better idea of what to save for

  1. – Tuition? The most expensive part of getting your degree for sure, but worth it in the end.
  2. – How much is housing? Most universities require you live on campus your freshman year and it can be quite expensive.
  3. – What about a meal plan? Again, most universities require you to buy a meal plan each semester.
  4. – How much does it cost to get involved? There are often social media forums for you to ask these questions to current students. Ask how much it is to join an organization you are interested in!

Create a budget

After your research, create a budget that will be realistic for you to follow but will help ensure you have your bills covered while having some extra to put into savings. Remember, it’s okay to be flexible because this could change when you get to school!

Managing your money while in college:

Stick to your budget

Staying on top of your budget is the best way to track and save your money and it will help you establish good money habits that will not not only benefit you during college but also for the many years to come.

Get creative with textbooks

There are so many online resources to buy or rent used books that can cut the cost of buying textbooks from the university bookstore almost in half. This is also a great question to ask in online student forums – sometimes you don’t actually need the book for some classes.

Tip: Keep all the receipts from buying anything school related for tax purposes.

Take advantage of the “student perks”

Student discounts are GREAT things. If you research, you will find so may places that offer student discounts online but there are also may places that offer discounts in the community your college is in or even some places in your hometown. You are only a student for 4 years, take advantage of it while you can!

Save some along the way

Ways to save:

  1. – Eliminate any reoccurring expenses that you don’t use often.
  2. – Cook at home – though most colleges require that you buy a meal plan, it’s usually not enough for every meal so instead of getting fast food, make meals at home.
  3. – Be a smart shopper – find the meals wherever you go, when you’re in college, every little bit helps!

Finances after graduation:

Pick up a book about money basics:

There are plenty of options when looking for a book about budgeting and finances. This really is helpful to give you some insight into the so called “real world”.

Create a budget

Adjust the budget you created for college or create a new one to fit the expenses you have currently and continue to update as expenses change. A budget is the first step to financial success and it truly is a great feeling to know exactly where your money goes.

Work to pay off student debt

Prioritize your student loan debt to get it paid off sooner. Think of it this way: living expenses first (food and rent) then student loan payments. It will help you stay on top of the payments and eliminate them quicker.

Set clear financial goals

Being realistic when setting financial goals for your earnings is so important. When setting these goals, remember that saving for major purchases and steering clear of debt will increase the saving you create later. Also, set a goal of having an emergency fund, you never know when you may get a flat tire or need some extra money for to pay a bill.

We hope these managing tips will help guide you from your first day of freshman year to after graduation. They will help instill good money managing habits for the many years ahead.