As a college student or recent grad, your financial situation might feel anything but comfortable. Fortunately, there are quite a few steps you can start taking to get a better grasp on your money.
We’re sharing our best advice below on easing your financial stress.
1. Look into side hustles.
Earning some extra cash while you power through your classes can help cushion some of your financial burdens. Figure out what kind of gig best fits your schedule. A part-time role, such as an on-campus job, is a great option if you have time. However, if you can’t fit a steady work schedule into your current routine, consider taking on a side hustle. Things like pet sitting, freelancing, nannying or a similar role can earn you extra money on your own schedule.
2. Be more realistic about your budget.
You can’t sugarcoat your budget! If you didn’t correctly account for how much you spend on things like coffee runs, nights out with friends, and other miscellaneous expenses, it’s time to revisit and revise your budget. When you have an accurate picture of your income vs. your spending, it’ll be much easier staying on track and figuring out the best places to start saving more.
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3. And, be realistic about where you can spend less.
There are two ways you can be unrealistic about how you cut down spending. On one hand, maybe you’re overly ambitious and limit your spending in a way that isn’t livable — like only allowing yourself a minimal amount of money for weekly meals and food prep. In this case, you may end up consistently going over your budget, leaving you with even more financial stress.
On another hand, maybe you’re not allowing yourself to cut down in areas that are doable. For example, finding a cheaper phone plan, buying in bulk or using coupons, and canceling unnecessary memberships and subscriptions. Get creative about where you cut costs. Remember, even if you can’t cut something out of your budget completely, there still may be a cheaper alternative.
4. Establish an emergency fund.
One major cause of financial stress is the payments that you don’t anticipate, like when your car breaks down or you have a medical emergency. While you can’t avoid life’s curve balls, you can plan ahead for these unexpected costs. Establish an emergency fund that you’ll only touch in these situations. This can be a set amount of money you put aside (like your tax return), or a fund that accumulates over time as you gradually contribute to it. It’s a big stress reliever when you know you have this cushion in case you should ever need it.