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Money Management

Aug 19, 2021

Author - Maahi Patel, Intern at Forward College Counseling


Guess what’s one of the few things that most college kids worry about? 

That’s right, being broke! 

College means responsibility, yet also means managing your money wisely. It can get tricky to keep track, especially if you’re a freshman. It is unfortunate that universities don’t provide students with the right financial management information. However, there are just a few steps you should ideally follow and you’ll be just fine.

First thing’s first. Once you arrive on campus, make sure to choose a bank in which you can open your checking or savings account. When choosing a bank, there are a few things to be mindful of. These include the location of the bank and its atm, as well as whether they are easy to access and if they’re close to you or your campus. You would also have to think about whether they have monthly fees (some banks may charge a monthly fee if you don’t meet the minimum requirement). Information as such can be found on google, or it’s best if you contact the bank through phone or visit them in person. In addition, it is suggested by Shawn K (2014) that students should avoid getting a credit card even though it may seem more fascinating or the key to life. Students mostly end up in debt because they are vulnerable and financially misunderstood. It is also to be remembered that banks are businesses to make money and not to cover your excessive spending habits.

When talking about excessive spending habits, Compulsive Buying Behavior is common amongst college students, resulting in purchase of goods or services that cater their wants rather than needs. Kellet and Bolton (2009) claim that this behavior is guided through emotional responses such as boredom, tension, depression that lead to temporary pleasure and relief. These products commonly include shoes, apparel, new technology, beauty haul etc. However, over time these products are forgotten about, hidden, or given away due to its lack of necessity. Over time, this type of behavior leads to financial harm.

It is vital to budget everything. There are common assumptions made that bills are the only thing that need to be included in the monthly budget. But all those grocery runs and the daily Starbucks runs can add up fast too. There should, ideally, be funds created every month towards things like weekend spending, coffee runs, books and supplies, going out to the movies etc. This allows students to track their expenses as well as compare the actual expenditures to their planned expenditures. There are several budgeting apps you can download to help you keep your college student cash flow in order. These apps include Mint, PocketGuard, Wally, EveryDollar, and Simple. It’s suggested that you download these and see which one suits your liking and accessibility.  

In addition, there are way too many things that seem tempting to spend on while in college. You are no longer living at home under your parents’ control, which also means you are responsible for your spending habits. It seems so much easier to eat out rather than cooking at home, except eating out frequently not only affects you financially but it fluctuates your health as well (see the article on finding balance in college for more information on this). Try cooking at home, this helps you save up a lot of money, gives you a healthy diet, it can be a great social activity if you cook with your roommate or friends, and you can make the most of leftovers and/or meal prep.

There are many ways you can save up on your daily expenses, whether they are your wants or needs. You can use online coupons such as the Honey browser extension. These promotional codes help you save a lot of cash when shopping online and can range from ordering food to textbooks. You might also want to be aware of automated payments. These include services such as Spotify or Netflix, or even for certain brands that require a monthly fee. You may miss out on your monthly makeup samples, but that amount can be used up in several other necessities.

Purchasing textbooks and books can also get expensive, but those are needed for your classes. Don’t worry, there’s a solution to that as well. Turn to using purchased textbooks or online copies- these are usually cheaper than buying a new hardcopy. Campus bookstores tend to sell books for a higher price as it is the only convenient physical store that students have access to. Instead, order or rent out your books on Amazon, or shop online from sites such as Chegg or Valore. Used or rented books usually come in good conditions, and if you want to play safe go for the soft copy! But again, you’d have to base this decision on what kind of study method suits you the most, if you’re a notetaker you could go for the hardcopy. Ordering these books online also allows you to use those additional promotional codes!

If it’s the case that it’s difficult for you to stick to your budget, try taking up a part time job on campus! Many campuses offer part time jobs that aren’t necessarily too difficult, and these include tutoring jobs, residential assistant, and employees at cafes/restaurants. They take a few hours of your day, and you get to save up some bucks for you to spend on your own liking. However, don’t let this affect your academics. You can check out the article on achieving academic success to ensure taking up a part time job doesn’t harm your academics.

These are a few of the many tips and tricks that are essential to make sure you’re financially stable, out of which budgeting is a crucial one! Be mindful about your spending from day one and you will end up having a smooth college journey.



Alce, M. L., & Supramono. (2017). Can allowance, personal budgeting and self control as mediating role manage compulsive buying behavior among college students? International Journal of Social Sciences & Educational Studies, 4(3), 1-10. doi:

HENRY, R. A., WEBER, J. G., & YARBROUGH, D. (2001). MONEY MANAGEMENT PRACTICES OF COLLEGE STUDENTS.(Statistical Data Included). College Student Journal, 35(2), 244–244.

Trawick, S. K. (2014, Oct 27). Wise money management in college remains key. University Wire Retrieved from

Elrick, Lauren. “10 Money Management Tips for College Students.” 10 Money Management Tips for College Students | Rasmussen University, 14 Sept. 2015,


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