Wednesday 24 January 2018

How I cope with financial problems and stress

Caroline shares her advice about managing your finances while at university. 
- Caroline

Student life can be hard. Between the stress of making grades and being able to find a job after you graduate, lies a financial stress that worried me for most of my college career. Every year I piled on another student loan and could feel the pressure of financial problems looming over my head. Studies show that 70% of students in college feel overwhelmed by their financial situation and stress. However, looking back, there are a few things I would have done differently to not only relieve my stress then but help the future me from being financially burdened. 

Finding the Right Job

College is the perfect place to network and I wish I had used that aspect of it more. Depending on the career you want to go into, college can be a great place to start building your resume. Whether you want to create software, sell novels, or teach, you don’t have to be an unpaid intern to start making money from your career. I loved writing and wanted to make a career out of it, but waited until I graduated to start publishing and blogging. Instead of making money AND building my resume, I just focused on a side job that would bring me some side cash.

However, speaking of side cash, don’t overlook small jobs such as pet sitting, babysitting, filling out surveys online, Ubering, or other modes of money making. I made some excellent cash, at least enough to keep me fed on more than just ramen noodles, by using these side jobs. If you excel in a subject, especially math, English, or science, tutoring is also a great option. 

Sticking to a Budget

I was great at making budgets. If ever my financial situation and stress began to creep up, I would sit down and enthusiastically make a beautiful, color-coded budget. After I made it, I would feel so much better and relaxed.

However, I wasn’t always good at sticking to my budget. Late night study snack trips with my college buddies, spontaneous online shopping to cheer me up, and expensive adventures with friends added up to way more than I had budgeted for, which meant less money to save and more financial stress. Make a budget and stick to it, know what your money personality is will help you create a doable financial plan. You can budget for fun breaks but stick to that amount. Otherwise, explore the numerous free options for adventures. Fun doesn’t have to break the bank.

Applying for Financial Aid and Scholarships

A student loan can be appealing for many reasons. It solves your immediate financial need and you don’t have to worry about it until after you graduate. However, if you’re anything like me, that monster of loan debt piles up and adds way more stress after graduation that you could have avoided. Financial aid and scholarships are a great solution to this.

The place to start is by talking to your college financial advisor. They will be able to point you in a number of different directions for places to apply. It’s their job to give you financial advice. But don’t stop there. Apply for every grant, scholarship, and financial aid that you can. Scholarships can also help you pay for things like books, food, housing, and other expenses in college. 

Saving for Emergencies

Anyone can save, even if you are going through your dorm room and car for spare change to buy some ramen noodles. While it may not be much at first, cutting back spending on things you don’t need and saving the spare change in your pocket at the end of a day begins to add up. The more you practice saving, the better you will be at it. Don’t be like me who spent every dime as soon as I got it and had to go begging to parents and other financial supporters when my car broke down. Saving helps me to become independent and have the money to attend a new class and for when those emergencies pop up.

College student life can be stressful, but financial problems don’t have to add to your stress. Learning how to manage your money wisely now while you are in college will make your future self eternally grateful. By following just a few of the lessons I should have learned, you will be able to save yourself from the financial problems and stress that plague most college students.

Caroline Bird is a new graduate, a rebel kid who had to fight a lot with her financial problems during university. She received some scholarships which helped her to survive university. She comes from a broken family which parents did not support much to attend university, yet she refused to accept the fortune and decide to write her own destiny. She wanted to write for Student Minds to share how she dealt with her tough university life.

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