A New Decade, a Fatter Wallet!
The new year clears the slate for all those 2019 regrets. College students return rested after the holiday break just in time for a fresh semester with new classes and professors. But looming over that shiny optimism is a very real student debt problem;
in 2017, students graduating from public four-year universities left with an average $26,900 in debt–and that number keeps rising. While this problem is no doubt daunting and overwhelming for many students, there are some great money saving strategies for the new year.
Ride a Bike!
More and more college campuses are increasing their sustainable transportation options. Ditch the car and opt for a swanky bike helmet instead. Public access to bikes, scooters, and buses is a growing trend. College students can sometimes benefit from free bus passes and other perks. Maintaining a car on campus means parking, gas, insurance, and repairs. Research what transportation options are available near campus. Companies like ZipCar and Uber offer ride-share options for the times when a car is more necessary, like bad weather and heavy groceries.
Pay Attention to Credit Cards.
It’s smart to start building credit, but those credit cards can quickly turn around and bite. Make sure to manage credit card balances and pay off more than is spent each month. Interest rates and late fees can quickly add to the balance, so students should read the fine print before signing up. They should take advantage of travel points and rewards when they can. Using these wisely can pay for a flight home or to a spring break destination.
Find a Part-time Job.
Students are busy no doubt. But a part-time job can help pay for small bills without taking up too much time. Many on-campus jobs work around class schedules and are flexible for exams and study needs. Restaurants and coffee shops often need extra hands. Help conduct research with a paid assistantship. Complete surveys online. Dog-sit. Scoop ice cream. Millennials are masters of the side hustle.
Colleges are hot spots for free food–it’s just about knowing how to find it. Attend events offering free food, bring student IDs to restaurants and ask about discounts, and try to save dining out for special occasions.
Above all, understand and prepare for future student debt payments. Use campus resources for free financial planning and budgeting. Calculate future monthly payments (including interest). Mastering these tips will build helpful financial habits to better tackle student loan debt in the future. Take control in 2020!