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For most students, college is the first time in their lives when they’re in control of their own money. That means you have all kinds of decisions at your fingertips.

It can be easy to overspend. Especially if you’ve never had to budget before. But setting yourself up for success early can build habits that you carry with you well into your adult life.

We’ve compiled a few of our favorite smart money tips so you can start making a habit of them now. 

Create a budget

This might seem obvious, but it’s something so many people don’t do. We’ve got tons of blog posts about how to make the best budget for yourself

A budget can give you an at-a-glance look at your spending habits, so you can see where to trim back. There are even some apps that will help you get started if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Budgets can be the first step towards not overspending. When you know what is coming in, you know how much should be going out. Which brings us to the next tip…

Spend less than you earn

Another “duh” here. Still, spending less than you earn isn’t easy for everyone. A budget will show you how much your making so you can allocate your funds wisely. 

As always, it’s important to put some money aside as well. You never know when you might have an emergency you’re going to need some extra money for. Having savings will help you in those situations.

Spending less than you earn also means you won’t rely on credit cards. When you’re likely already taking out student loans, why add more debt to your future?

Avoid using credit cards

We already mentioned this above, but relying on credit cards can put you in a bad financial situation. Unless you have a large emergency expense that you don’t have cash for, you should avoid charging everyday purchases to your credit cards.

The less you charge, the less you have to pay back. And using only your income can help you stay on budget in all areas. 

Start a savings account

Your student loans loom in your not-so-distant future. It’s a pretty good idea to start saving in advance so you can start making your payments and still be on good financial footing.

And if you don’t have student loans to save for, you’re building a nest egg that you can start your adult life on. You’ll have money set aside to help you move into your first apartment, a down payment on a car, or to have in case of an emergency. 

Even better than savings is investing

If you have enough money coming in during college that you can start investing, you’ll be miles away from your peers. Investing is what can help you start building a retirement fund or high-interest savings plan. 

There are simple investment options for people at all stages of life. A simple google search can direct you to investment options that allow you to funnel even a few small amounts per month. It might not seem like a lot, but it could help you infinitely in the future. 

Building good money habits is as simple as just starting them. Once you get into the groove of implementing these habits regularly, they’ll be a part of your life well into adulthood. 

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.