Most college students are in the same boat when it comes to learning how to manage money on their own for the first time. Paying for food, textbooks, transportation, dues for organizations, and social events on and off campus, on top of having to pay tuition, can add on to academic and personal stress. Learning how to manage money can prepare young women of color specifically to enter a workforce, the wage gap of which makes it disproportionately more difficult to pay off student loans.
The American Association of University Women published a study in February of 2016 which found that between 2009 and 2012, 33% of women paid down payments on their student loans upon graduating. Forty-four percent of males paid down payments on student loan debt during the same time period. When broken down even further, the study showed that Black and Hispanic women paid 9% and 3%, respectively, compared to their White and Asian counterparts who paid 37% and 61%, respectively.
The 2016 Presidential candidates have both described plans to alleviate national student debt. Although her opponent has not directly addressed the topic thoroughly, Secretary Clinton’s plan aims to help students from middle- and lower-income families in repaying student loans. A detailed list of both candidates’ viewpoints on the subject can be found here.
While it isn’t realistic that college students will know how to manage their money perfectly, being aware of financial decisions earlier will prevent mistakes with long-term consequences later on. For example, making reckless decisions with credit now can lead to higher interest rates and can make it more difficult to obtain a loan or even get hired in the future.
Below are easy ways to minimize spending in college, as well as some resources to learn more about useful skills such as financial literacy and budgeting.
Buy used textbooks
With the spring 2017 semester quickly approaching, starting to look for used or cheap textbooks now will save you (and your wallet) from unnecessary stress. There are most likely plenty of people on your campus willing to sell their textbooks from this semester (and probably willing to buy yours), and if not, here are “The Top 5 Sites to Find Your College Textbooks”.
Pretend Your School’s Cafeteria Food Isn’t Terrible, For Your Bank Account’s Sake
While food delivery apps like Postmates and UberEats can make life a lot easier, being realistic about eating out frequently will keep you from spending unnecessary amounts of money. If you have a meal plan, try to make the effort to eat in your school’s cafeteria more often. It’s highly unlikely that your school serves five-star meals, but making the sacrifice may leave you some extra spending money to treat yourself every once in a while. If the cafeteria isn’t an option for you, try saving up and buying instant lunch or dinner in bulk.
Mint is a free iPhone App that allows to track your personal spending via categorized charts and graphs, create a budget, and even check your credit score. Having that information in the palm of your hand makes it easier to hold yourself accountable for your spending habits.
Practical Money Skills is a website that has various articles, videos, podcasts, and other resources that explain everything from the importance of maintaining good credit in college to landing a job after graduation.