Money Management: A college student’s guide

Recently, I looked over my bank statement and was shocked to see the amount of money I had expended over the last 4 months. It is my last semester and thus, I spent a lot of my time and money in partying with friends. I had some idea that I was going over-budget but believe me my estimate was much much lower than reality. So, even though my college semester is almost over and I can’t do much to regain the money I spent, I am writing a blog post listing down some habits which I intend to follow in the future:

  • Keep a monthly budget: I know this is mentioned in every money guide around the world and that unless you were born yesterday, you must have heard this at least a hundred times already but this is very important advice. Decide beforehand the amount of money you’re going to spend each month and do not exceed that amount. I know that impromptu trip to Hampi sounds enticing but please stick to your budget. Otherwise, you will have no control over your expenses.
  • Look for sources of income: You can’t spend money if don’t have any! Start looking for part-time jobs or freelance opportunities which might help you earn some pocket money. Remember to look at the task as nothing more a source of income and always bargain hard (but only after you started getting some traction). If you know and/or can learn web development, it is a great way to earn money from home. There are also sites which let you fill surveys, play games and earn money. There are many opportunities around you, just start looking. Ohh and depending on your parents for all your money isn’t a very good idea, specially if you like to party.
  • Save a part of what you earn: So you didn’t go to Hampi did you? Good! But remember in case you hadn’t spent all of the money you earned on booze, you might have been able to go on this trip. Don’t worry, its never too late to start saving money. Try and save at least 10% of all that you earn and keep it aside for emergency needs. And emergency doesn’t mean parties and drinks. Don’t spend this money until you’re absolutely sure you need to.
  • Give some money to charity: Yes, I know you’re a college student and that you are barely scraping by yourself. But remember that just being enrolled in college makes you one of the luckiest people around. There are many others who haven’t been given such opportunities. The least you can do is donate one day’s worth of booze money to some poor guy. He will thank you for it. Plus the extra karma points will always be helpful.
  • Don’t spend money ‘virtually’: It is a proven fact that having money deducted automatically from your bank balance (eg: Uber) or keeping a long term tab (eg: at your local juice or sutta wala), will make you overshoot your budget. As long as you aren’t taking money out of your wallet, you don’t realize the importance of money that you have spent. Always try and pay by cash there and then. Keep a cheque on your uber spending too.
  • Say no: Simplest and easiest way to save money. When you are running short of cash, tell your friends and don’t go out that frequently. Buy only things that you need. Remember “Money saved is money earned”.

These tips are my own learnings over the past semester. I hope writing them down here will motivate me to manage my money better. Let me know if it helps you in any way.

Reading list

  • The Best Advice Ever To A Teenage Daughter Who Needs To Make Money: You might not be a teenager or a daughter to heed the good advice mentioned in this email. James Altucher has frequently been mentioned as one of the topmost bloggers of all time and this post is one of the many reasons why. It’s written in a simple yet interesting manner and contains advice that can help anyone looking to make some money.
  • Dear Smriti Irani, stop giving my money to IITians : IIT’s are the premier engineering institution of India. This article raises some poignant questions about brain drain, societal responsibility and the tendency of students to run after the highest paying jobs.
  • How To Become A Top WordPress Developer: This blog is hosted on wordpress.com and the topic of this article is money management for students. So I thought I will include this comprehensive guide to mastering one of the best web development and content management frameworks of modern times. Though the article talks about mastering wordpress, the techniques mentioned can be used to master any skill.

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