7 Secrets for Mastering Your Finances Like A Pro in College

It’s September, which means most of the college aspirants are ready to transition into freshmen. While the prospects of fun, love, and building a career define the aspirations of most college students, having their finances organized is rarely a priority. And why not? Isn’t that a grown-ups’ thing? Not really, and in fact, financial mistakes you make during college can haunt you for several years in your adult life.

2 Stats Indicating How Financial Indiscipline in College Can Complicate Your Adult Life

7 Hacks to Becoming a Financial Pro in College

To avoid being a graduate with such remorse, here are some simple financial tips that will keep you ahead financially.

Maximize the financial aid for college

It’s tempting to borrow the maximum amount you can avail under a student loan. Who knows what college holds, especially in terms of expenses? However, this is one of the biggest mistakes students commit during college. More than 20% of Ipsos poll respondents repent their decision to borrow more than they needed in student loan.

The ideal strategy is to maximize the financial aid you can receive for a college education. Find out about federal and provincial financial assistance programs for college students. Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is an excellent example of provincial initiatives to make college education more affordable for students coming from economically weaker households.

Used textbooks and stationery is the way to go

Stationery is one of the top expenses for a college student. While it is necessary to have updated books, there are multiple options to lower your textbook or other stationery expenses. For instance, if your primary source for textbooks is the campus bookstore, you’re more than likely to spend at least a couple of hundred dollars extra every semester. Instead, look out for online sellers or find used books. Several sites like Amazon and eBay list a wide variety of used books. Additionally, sites like Chegg allow you to rent textbooks at a fraction of their original cost. Once you’re through with these books, list them for sale.

Student discounts are up for grabs

Being in college makes you eligible for a myriad of discounts at retailers, utility providers, and even banks. As a student, make sure to maximize your savings through discount hunting. It will probably take less than a day to identify all the discount schemes, so get started right now. Not only will it help you save money during college and university, but it will also help you become a financially-aware-spender for life.

Fund daily expenses with a part-time job

One of the best ways to ease financial stress during college is to take a part-time job. You can find multiple job opportunities for college students. Start by asking around the campus, check student bulletins, and use your network. However, make sure that the job suits your college schedule. Most of the employers offer flexible work hours for students. Use this income towards daily expenses and leisure activities.

Stick to a budget

Roughly one in three Canadians regret not having a budget during their student life. Having a budget ensures that you spend less than you make and avoid unnecessary expenses. Keeping a budget doesn’t have to be difficult. You can use online expense trackers like Mint, GoodBudget, or Spending Tracker. Using a mobile app has its benefits. You can track expenses in real-time. Some apps even send a push notification if you’re close to your weekly spending limit.

Choose the right credit card

Let’s be honest here. College students are the least prepared segment of customers to own a credit card. They are likely to treat it as free money, piling excessive debt throughout college. If you’re looking for your first credit card, we suggest choosing a card with a limit or opting for a secured credit card instead. Here are some tips for managing credit cards wisely.

Choose a secured credit card or one with a low limit.

  • It will ensure that you do not overspend.

Make full payments every month.

  • College is the right time to form good financial habits. Making full-balance payments will help you build a strong credit history while saving you from high-interest charges.

Consider a line of credit instead.

  • You may require parental help in this regard. Ask your parents to help you get a line of credit. Having a line of credit will lower your interest payments, thereby saving hundreds of dollars paid in credit card interest.

Fun doesn’t always require money

Most of the students overspend on entertainment. Developing a habit of eating out or partaking in social activities that cost money is a surefire way to financial ruins. Spending $15 on a movie ticket might seem alright, but these amounts add up to a couple of hundred dollars every month. Focus on entertainment activities that don’t break your bank. For instance, host a game night or rent a movie to enjoy with your friends. Similarly, look out for college activities during the weekend. There is nothing wrong with learning a new skill in your spare time.

The Bottom Line

College is a confusing period of life, and it is quite easy to get carried away. While we do not suggest not having fun, practicing a little financial restraint could go a long way in your financial success as adults. It’s even better if you can start saving a little and put these savings towards investing. You’ll reap the benefits of compound interest. Spending less than you make is the key to long-term financial success.


If you’re determined to manage finances during school and want to get ahead at the same time, click the button below to learn more about how you can save money. 

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Jenna West

Jenna West has built up a list of published work on various global recognized websites like RE/MAX Canada, Freeman Audio Visual Canada and now carries the title of Freelance Content Manager for Smarter Loans. Jenna adds creative value and fresh perspectives on all things finance, especially pertaining to millennials, and has a natural knack for turning a page full of words into a visual reading experience.