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  • A photo collage featuring the text: Finance Hacks: College Edition, and 5 photos highlighting locations mentioned in the blog including campus events and dining locations on campus.

    Finance Hacks: College Students’ Edition

    Lexie Harris

    From tuition and housing to food and entertainment, college is expensive! It seems like everywhere you look is somewhere you have to spend money. To help with expenses, many full-time college students have jobs, which can make it difficult to manage your schedule and maintain academic success. Sometimes you may feel like you’re putting too much time toward one, and not enough time on the other. No matter your situation, we could all benefit from some cost-saving tips. Here are three tips to help save money while in college!

    Attend Events on Campus

    At the beginning of each semester, a lot of colleges hold free on-campus events! These types of events aim to help new freshmen become more comfortable in a new environment. It helps the new students meet other people, get to know the campus, and learn about on-campus groups (i.e. sororities/fraternities and clubs). These events are not only for new students but are often open to returning students. While these events are a great way to get involved with your campus community, there are often free giveaways and swag items up for grabs. From t-shirts to bags to notepads to mechanical pencils, there is a lot of free stuff being given away. As the semester goes on, keep a lookout for more free events on campus. Get involved with on campus events and enjoy the freebies which can help you save money, too!

    Take advantage of the Meal Plan

    Many colleges require students who live on-campus to select a meal plan. Even if you live off-campus, you can take advantage of this! Especially if you are required to pay for it, you might as well use it! This saves you from having to spend extra money on groceries and having to go out to eat. Most colleges also have multiple meal plan options for students to pick from. Starting out it may be difficult to know what meal plan will work best for you, but you will quickly learn how to maximize your plan and can always adjust the next semester. This way you save money and eat the food you want to eat, whether it be on campus restaurants, in the cafeteria, or at home.

    Borrow or Rent Textbooks

    In my experience, many teachers use presentations to teach instead of closely following the textbook. That being said, this doesn’t mean textbooks are useless and never required. There are professors who still rely heavily on their textbooks, and even if the professor doesn’t really use the textbook, it can be a great resource for studying and learning more about a topic. The one drawback to physical textbooks, however, is that they are pretty expensive. Instead of buying all new textbooks, try renting them or using a digital eTextbook format. I have found that eTextbooks are available for less than half what the textbooks cost and have other great features such as audiobooks, study tools, and video for on-the-go learning.

    From tuition and housing to food and entertainment, college is expensive! It may seem like everywhere you look is somewhere you have to spend money. By using these three tips, you can save some money and still get the full college experience!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

     

  • A screenshot of a Google Sheet listing college expenses and ‘Help Me!!” at the end of the list.

    Five Money Management Tips for College Students

    Peyton Maria

    Budgeting in college can be very hard. With the world at your fingertips, new events every day, and the convenience of fast food, saving money in college almost feels impossible. However, there is hope. With a few quick lifestyle changes, you can easily go from pinching pennies to having enough savings to survive when you graduate.

    Keep Track of Your Spending

    Some bank apps make it really easy to do this, but even if you just need an excel sheet, keeping track of the money you’re spending can be a gamechanger. When you are constantly writing down what you're spending, it causes you to be more cautious of how much you are spending monthly. Suddenly, a $7 coffee every other day doesn’t seem as tempting, and eating in allows you to spend more money in the long run-on things/experiences that will mean more to you than the late-night Canes run. Pick and choose what’s more important and keep track of what your weekend meals add up to.

    Set A STRICT Budget

    And no, this doesn’t mean transferring money out of your savings every time your monthly budget runs dry. In order to save money in college, you have to create a budget and stick to it. My rule of thumb is 40% savings, 60% checking, then dividing that up into gas, groceries, bills, wants, and needs. The important thing is sticking to what you have set at the beginning of the month and not going over it. When you go over, you are already setting yourself up for a bad month to follow. When you go under, you’re able to spend more money where you want to in the coming months.

    Be Intentional

    It is so easy to spend money when you aren’t thinking about it. Small purchases for $5 or $10 can seem like nothing, but then all of a sudden you’ve spent $100 in one weekend, and you didn’t actually enjoy most of it. It’s so important to spend intentionally, buying things only when you need or have money to. Window shopping always turns into real shopping, and “looking around” is always too tempting. It’s easier to just not go to the mall than to convince yourself not to spend the money once you’re there.

    Take advantage of FREE

    People know college kids are struggling. Whenever there’s an event on your campus with free food, take advantage! Eat at the dining hall when you have passed your allotted amount for eating out this month. The food might be less tempting than your favorite take-out place, but this is the one time in your life you will have access to free and made meals, so save that money and suffer through it! Dining hall pizza is always better than being broke.

    Give Yourself Grace

    My final tip is to give yourself grace when you don’t follow all of this perfectly. We are all struggling with finances, and money seems to never be enough, and it’s ok to have a little less in your checking account than you’d prefer. This is also a time where you can fully focus on being a student with few responsibilities. Go out with friends, make memories, and don’t be so hard on yourself when it comes to your money spending. Maybe just opt for the cheaper restaurants every so often and go thrifting for outfits you’re only going to wear once anyways. That dress is so cute for a Taylor Swift concert but won’t be in your calculus class.

    Overall, college is hard enough, and not having enough money to feel comfortable with your spending makes it even harder. Being intentional, limiting your spending, and keeping track of it will make living in college on a small budget easier. But remember that you won’t always do this exactly how you want, and that’s okay. You are doing hard things, and you should celebrate that instead of beating yourself up for spending a little too much on Celsius. Do your best and check your bank account often, and you’ll be okay.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

     

  • A close-up shot of 2 rows of $1 bills.

    College Money Management Hacks

    Madeline Beavis

    “I’m broke!” might just be the most common statement made by college students. College is a major expense, but there are many ways to still have fun and be involved without breaking the bank!

    Take Advantage of Student Discounts

    Did I hear discounts? Yes! There are many businesses that offer discounts for students. From clothes to electronics to movie theaters to theme parks, retailers are happy to support students. Don't be afraid to ask about available student discounts.

    Apply For Scholarships

    I know it can seem daunting to write essay after essay about why you deserve a scholarship, but organizations want to help students with their financial needs! Sitting down for a couple of hours and submitting applications can make all the difference to offset college costs... and some scholarships don’t even require essays! Make sure that you check with your school’s financial aid office for specific scholarships related to academic performance, athletics, or extracurriculars.

    Give Yourself an Allowance

    Learning how to balance your spending is an important life skill. If you have a job, calculate how much money you make per month and allow yourself a maximum amount to spend out of your income. If you do not have a job, allot a specific amount you can spend each month or consider finding a job on campus if you have enough time in your schedule. There are usually many opportunities to work at on-campus coffee shops, the library, or dining halls. Check out your school’s employment opportunities for more information. Be sure to track your spending and progress for motivation!

    Open A Savings Account

    A savings account is a great way to store your money in a secure location, limit spending (remember your allowance!), and earn interest. Keeping your savings in an account ensures access to your funds in case of an emergency, while intentionally separating your spending money from what you are trying to save. Investigate savings accounts without minimum balance amounts and no monthly fees to save even more.

    Investigate E-Textbooks

    It is no secret that college textbooks are expensive! Many college textbooks are available in a more budget-friendly eTextbook format – which are often less than half of the cost of the print version. I’ve had the opportunity to subscribe to my eTextbooks, available in Pearson+. This has been a great way to save money on textbooks. For just $10.99/month you have instant access to your eTextbook, videos, and study tools. With the Pearson+ mobile app, you can access your textbooks from anywhere!

    Your college years can be challenging in many ways and managing finances can top the list at times. Take the time to plan the money management strategies that work best for you. The habits you build will serve you well both throughout your college experience and after graduation.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A notebook with a clear plastic top cover with a collection of paper and coin money tucked inside.

    How to Get a Quick Start to Saving

    Kaitlin Hung

    As I’m nearing the end of my undergraduate career, I’ve realized there are so many things I want to do, and it seems like they all require money. It’s incredibly hard to save money when you’re a student working minimum wage, especially when you’re experiencing “adult money” for the first time.

    When I got my first job, I spent my first paycheck almost immediately. This was money I earned for myself and wouldn’t feel bad for my parents when I used it. This mindset made it so my paychecks were wrung dry hundreds of times faster than the amount of time I spent to earn that money. The money wouldn’t last, and I’d use it on large handfuls of small daily purchases like coffee or boba. My poor money spending decisions left my pockets empty and I began to realize I would never reach my larger goals, such as going on an international trip or affording my own place, unless I figured out a way to start saving.

    Time is Money

    What I began to do to save money included changing my mindset, purchases, and “piggy bank”. Let’s say I make $15 an hour and a single drink at a cafe costs around $5, sometimes much more. I realized that buying only three drinks would translate to me working for one hour. Once I started looking at purchases in terms of my time and effort, I made less of the unnecessary “luxury” purchases.

    Buy in Bulk

    Another thing I would do is buy “in bulk”. Rather than buying one drink, I’d buy the ingredients for it and make it myself. The $20 spent on 4 cups of coffee could be stretched further on groceries that would equate to a month’s worth of coffees.

    Cut the Card and Correct with Cash

    I also noticed that my primary mode of payment was my bank card, which made it too easy to overspend. I’ve rarely carried cash since the start of the pandemic, so I began to go to my bank and take cash out of my accounts. I’d then take the cash and place it in a small notebook that I keep out of sight. It helps to get newer dollar bills that are fresh and clean. It makes me want to keep them! By doing this I prevent myself from spending the money that is locked away in my room, and I occasionally even forget about it which makes for a nice surprise later. This action helped me curb my online spending, too.

    These are small changes in my lifestyle that have resulted in a satisfying savings amount, and I look forward to seeing how much I can save up by the end of the year.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • Blog author Matthew Dougherty sits at a desk looking at two computer screens, both displaying financial documents.

    Four Money Management Tips for College Students

    Matthew Dougherty

    College is an important time in many people’s lives. For some, it is the first time they live independently and have bills to pay. The habits you form in college will impact your habits in the future, especially when it comes to money management. It is important to develop good practices and habits when it comes to your finances because what you do in college can either put you ahead in life or hold you back. Here are four topics to think about and/or actions to take while in college that will prepare you for the future.

    Understand Student Loans

    We can’t talk about how to effectively manage money in college without talking about student loans. Too many students go to college and agree to take out loans, without knowing the terms of the loans or realizing the impact these loans can have on them later in life. Every college student should work part time to make some money and gain work experience. You should aim to pay for as much of your living and tuition expenses as possible.

    Once you have a job and steady income, you can decide whether you will need to take out student loans, and, if you do, how much you should take out. Pay close attention to the interest rates on loans if you do take them out. Look for loans that have less than 5% interest rates. If interest rates are over 5%, you should try to look at alternative options. Generally, federal loans will have much lower interest rates than private loans and you should look here first. Additionally, you can look for opportunities such as scholarships and grants to help pay for the costs of college.

    Brains in Budgeting

    While working part time in college and paying bills, you should begin to track your income and expenses. This is generally referred to as a budget or cash flow analysis. You can make a budget in Excel, on a Google spreadsheet, on paper, or you can use a budgeting app such as Mint, Personal Capital, or EveryDollar.

    When making a budget, you will want to split it into income and expenses. In the income section, list the paychecks you receive from work, income from side hustles and investments (if applicable), and cash gifts. In the expenses section, choose categories that apply to your situation such as housing, utilities, transportation, food, etc. Once you have chosen your categories you can add subcategories underneath. For example, rent and household supplies could go under housing; electricity, water, and internet could go under utilities; gas and car insurance could go under transportation; and groceries and eating out could go under food. It is important to track your income and expenses, so you know where your money is going.

    Build an Emergency Fund

    If you have discretionary income remaining after paying for living expenses and tuition, focus on building an emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses. This will ensure that you are still able to pay your tuition and bills in case you are between jobs. You can keep your emergency fund in a money market or high yield savings account.

    Start Investing Now

    Once you have a fully funded emergency fund, you can consider investing. The sooner you start investing, the longer your money will have to grow. It is important to get in the habit of saving and investing and this can start in college. Even if you are only able to invest $20 a month, this will start the habit of investing. Since you are young and in a low tax bracket, consider opening a Roth IRA so your money can grow tax-free. You can open a Roth IRA at a brokerage firm such as Fidelity or Vanguard. I recommend investing in a total stock market index fund and putting in the same amount of money each month.

    Doing things such as minimizing student loan debt, budgeting, building an emergency fund, and investing in college can help put you ahead in life and set you up for success in the future. It is important to build these habits in college so you can graduate in a good financial position and be prepared to manage more money after college when you are working full time and no longer must pay for school. If you can learn and implement these important lessons in college, you will look back one day and be glad that you started early.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A young woman looks at a laptop screen showing investment information.

    College Students: Develop Money Management Skills Now as an Investment in Your Future

    Molly Hicks

    As a college student, money management can appear daunting. It is natural to brush it off as a topic which only concerns adults. I am currently a freshman in college, and ten months ago, I had no true interest in investing. However, during quarantine, my dad began to explain the perks and advantages of investing. It certainly sounded attractive, but how was I supposed to invest my personal money when I did not even know the basics?

    I am excited to share four steps to encourage you to invest and lead you to long-term success.

    1. Identify a trading platform that fits your needs and interests. Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and Robinhood are reliable and safe companies, and I know many people using each. For a beginner, Robinhood is the easiest platform to use. All three of these platforms have little to no fees for investing.
    2. Open a Roth IRA account, as well as a normal brokerage account. An IRA is designed for long-term investing, which usually means your money stays in the account until retirement. A brokerage account gives you access to invest and withdraw your money at any time. Opening both an IRA and a brokerage account allows you to do long-term investing and short-term investing.
    3. Create an investment plan. At this point you are ready to invest! This is an exciting time in your life, especially if you are a first-time investor. It is important to identify your goals and purpose for investing, and then to plan and research based those goals.
    4. Identify investments that interest you. Look for steady, reliable, well-performing companies that are in good financial standing and have a positive outlook for the future. As Warren Buffett says, “if you wouldn’t hold your investment in a company for 10 years, don’t even think about owning it for 10 minutes.” Do not make spur-of-the-moment investment decisions, as I can tell you from personal experience, they usually lead to mistakes. Identify an investment that interests you, think over it for an extended period of time, and then execute.

    My best piece of advice is to invest in an index fund. In simple terms, an index fund is a form of investment that tracks the performance of hundreds of different companies. The S&P 500 Index is the most famous, and there are plenty of funds that follow this particular index.

    Warren Buffett has stated numerous times the importance of investing in a low-cost index fund. Buffett recently said in a 2019 Yahoo! interview, “in 1942, if I put $114 into an S&P 500 fund instead of buying a single stock, it would be worth about $400,000 today.” This is arguably the most risk-free and reliable strategy for investing.

    Make it your goal every month to put at least $10 or more into an index fund in your IRA. You are not only investing in your future, but the future of your family.

    Commit to learning, save your money, and invest it wisely. Also, have confidence, because you are making one of the best decisions for your future, and beginning a lifelong journey of excitement!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

     

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    The importance of investing as a college student

    Tanner Vandermark

    April is Financial Literacy Month and it’s an appropriate time for college students to focus on developing the skills and learning about the tools there are to help make smart money decisions throughout their lives. Investing often seems like a strange concept for many college students to grasp. “Why should I invest now?” “How do I even get started?” “How much money do I need to have in order to invest?” Those are just a few of the questions students ask themselves when presented with the idea of investing. My family has always stressed the importance of saving money and preparing for your future. I was able to take these teachings and evolve them into investing rather than just “saving”. Here are some of the realities of investing so that you can be financially prepared for your future. 

    Invest now!

    One of the best things you can do as a young adult is to take advantage of your age and invest NOW. The more you invest today, the more your investment will be worth in the future. For example, if a 20 year old invests $1,000 in a brokerage account that grows at an average rate of 10%, that money will be worth $72,890 when they are 65 and ready to retire. And that’s just one investment! Imagine if they keep putting money into that account. You don’t necessarily have to save money just for retirement. If you want to take a fun trip next year or want to have a college fund for your future children, investing your money is a quicker way to reach your financial goals than just stuffing cash under your mattress. Every day that you wait is an opportunity missed, so take advantage of your youth and invest now. 

    How to get started

    Many students are intimidated and assume that investing is too complicated and too hard. This is a total misconception. It’s actually fairly simple and easy to start investing because almost all students have smartphones and computers now. All you have to do is sign up with an investment bank, like Fidelity or TD Ameritrade. Robinhood is gaining popularity among young people because they offer free online trading and don’t charge a commission, making it even easier to invest on a budget. Once you sign up, your money does all the work for you.

    How much money do you need to invest?

    Another misconception about investing is that only wealthy people have enough money to buy stocks and bonds. However, the reality is that if you only have 30 dollars to spare, you can still invest it! Many brokerage accounts do not require a minimum investment amount, meaning that if you can only afford to buy one stock of a company, that’s ok! Just remember to keep investing as you make extra money so you can grow it at an even faster rate. 

    By investing money now, you are preparing for your future. There are many resources available online and on most college campuses to help you get started. Start letting your money work for you by investing instead of just saving. 

     

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    Money saving tips for college students

    Jill Kelly

    College is by far the most expensive times of our lives. Whether your tuition is $50,000 a year or $10,000, it’s easy to neglect how much you need to save. Academics are important, but social life can also be an important part of every college student’s life. It can also have a big impact on your budget. If someone asks you to get lunch, it’s hard to say no and there goes $10. Two more dates and there goes another $30. For someone who only gets $50 a week, that’s more than half your money. What if your car breaks down and it is $50 to get it towed and you don’t have that? If you ask your parents for help they’ll ask you where the money they already gave you went? This is a time where we probably shouldn’t be spoiling ourselves. Instead we need to realize the many ways we can save money while still making the most of college life.

    Prioritize

    Putting your academics over your social life can be a difficult task in college. Many students struggle with finding a healthy balance. Almost everyone has made the mistake of attending a late night activity when they have to be up at 7 am for class the next morning. I personally believe keeping a strong social life helps me stay sane through all of the work we deal with on a daily basis. Not to mention, making connections is important for any career you could end up in. But we all know that in the long run, partying won’t help you land your dream job. Students should feel more compelled to involve themselves in paid work, internships, and externships. 

    By working more, you are making more money so that you don’t feel as guilty when you do excessively spend, but you spend less because your time is already preoccupied. I spent a lot during my freshman year because I wasn’t working and had so much free time. People that do have an income, however, will sometimes tend to spend more than they need to. Whether you work or not, look for ways to be social without spending a lot of money.

    Save and Save More

    Saving money in college is important so that you don’t graduate with a financial burden. Begin by making an income. We all like to think that by making money, we can spend it. You won’t be able to save or build an emergency fund by living paycheck to paycheck. Making more income doesn’t necessarily working more hours, but rather spending less. 

    There’s something called “the latte factor.” The $4 latte that people buy at a coffee shop every day amounts to $124 a month. That is over $1,000 a year! Though $4 sounds insignificant when you’re spending it, $1000 is a lot when you want to take a spring break trip to another country. We get caught up in the idea of spending more than we can afford. Many students have loans and everything beyond their budget leads them into debt before they can even begin to pay off loans. 

    Use Your Breaks

    Most students consider summer break to be a time to relax and not worry about work. During breaks, I try to work 40 hours a week to save money for the school year. This way I don’t have to ask my parents for money when they are paying so much already. The job gives me a sense of accomplishment and cancels out my problem of wondering what Netflix show I can binge watch next. It also encourages me to keep a healthy sleep schedule, something we all tend to struggle with. 

    Budget Friendly Ideas

    In addition to the ideas above, here are three of my favorite money-saving ideas for college students:

    1. Use public transportation! We all know parking on campus isn’t easy and we end up wasting more gas than we expected to by driving around trying to find a spot to park. You can even encourage a friend to walk with you and spend quality time with them. Bam! You are enjoying your social life on your way to succeed in your academic life!
    2. Make the most of your tuition and activity fees. Chances are when you visit a free event at your school or use those recreation facilities, you will feel more grateful for the university you attend and realize how much is offered to you at minimal to no extra cost. 
    3. Look for student discounts. Many stores and restaurants close to college campuses offer student discounts. I’ve been to three different nail salons in the area around my school and each one offers a student discount. My local Salvation Army sells their items at half off on Wednesdays. There is even a free app you can download on your mobile device called “Unidays” that gives students exclusive discounts to all the top brands such as Pacsun, Under Armour, Calvin Klein, and so much more!

    Budgeting can be hard, but not impossible. Your future self will thank you for making smart financial decisions in the moment.