In the board game the Game of Life, you’re constantly coming up against scenarios that impact your overall financial situation. Sometimes you have choices to make – such as whether to take out student loans and attend college or to buy car insurance. Other times, you are hit with unexpected twists and turns. In many ways, the game is a good reflection of what you might encounter in real life, and the importance of making smart financial decisions.
At Extra Credit, we recognize that many UMBC students are already in the process of building savvy financial skills. From working while attending school to carrying student loans, you may already understand the impact your financial decisions have on your life.
Whether you’ve been managing your finances for a while now, or you’ve just begun this process, consider the following list of simple ways to save money while in college and build a solid financial foundation.
1. Save for an emergency fund
Financial planning experts agree that as soon as you can, you should start setting money aside for emergencies. When pay day comes around, a percentage of that paycheck should go to building a fund worth three to six months of salary. This is your “cushion” for unexpected bumps in the road, like your car needing expensive repairs, big medical costs, a job lay-off, etc.
Not all textbooks are available to rent, but for those that are, this can significantly cut down on your book budget for the semester! Renting can often be a good option for your non-major courses.
3. If you live off campus, carpool
It’s simple, carpooling saves on gas. UMBC has newly partnered with Zimride by Enterprise to help connect you to other UMBC students in your area who are looking to carpool. You can learn more about this free service here.
4. Student Discounts!
Trips to museums in Baltimore, theater tickets, new laptops or cell phones- don’t hesitate to ask retailers and businesses if they offer a student discount. 5-20% off entertainment spending can go a long way on a student budget!
5. Use Technology to your Advantage and Track Your Money Flow
Online Banking, websites like Mint.com, depositing checks using your smartphone- there are plenty of ways to leverage the technology you are already using in your everyday life to help you keep your finances organized and help ensure you have the most updated information about what is coming in and out of your bank account. You’ll lower the risk that you spend more money than you actually have on hand and avoid those overdraft fees.
**Please remember to do your research- you want to make sure your personal information is protected when using any sort of banking technology**
6. Plan Big with a Little at a Time
Want to take a spring break trip to Florida with your friends? Put a little money aside each month so that by the time your trip comes you won’t feel the strain of having to decide between splurging on an afternoon of jet skiing or paying for your meal plan when you get back to campus.
7. Stay Conservative When it comes to Credit Cards
While building up good credit is important, it is not a good idea to open multiple cards and use them liberally. Don’t sign up for credit cards just for the 10% discount off your purchase. Maintain one card and make at least one charge to it every month, such as gas or groceries.
8. Educate yourself on your Student Loans
If you are taking out student loans to pay for college, make sure you know how they work. Understand when you are responsible for starting to pay them back and what happens if you miss a payment. Don’t take out more money in loans than you need; and, if possible, make some payments while you are still in college so you can get out ahead of your monthly payments and interest by the time you graduate. Remember, student loan payments can impact your credit rating!
This site provides students with information about credit, budgeting, investing, job seeking and other finance-related topics. Includes videos and links to relevant sources.
Individuals and families who earn $54,000 or less qualify for free tax assistance.
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