Top 10 Money Management Tips for College Students

Do you want to have both time and money to spend? Then, the ideas you are about to read in the following paragraphs may rock your inner reality. Although I am writing this for college students, it does not mean the principles do not apply to young adults or the young-at-heart.

As you go through the top 10 money management tips for college students, I encourage you to spend 3 to 5 minutes or so to jot down on a piece of paper the ideas that you can apply in your own situations. These tips are useless unless you act on them. TAKE ACTION, okay?

Do you know? The main difference between the rich and the poor lies in the way they view money? The rich think that the older you are, the more money you will have; the poor think that the older you are, the less money you’ll have. The rich knows that the younger you start managing your money, the more time and money will be at your disposal.

What if I tell you that most college students I know are, in my definition, poor? Not only that, most of them have negative net worth. In other words, if you pass them money to handle, the money that goes out of their pocket is more than the money that goes into their pocket? How can that be possible? Oh it is possible and it is very common, and I will shortly explain to you how it can happen.

Introducing Joe. Let’s say Joe (it’s just a random name for illustration purposes), is an average 18 years old boy in his city. He studies in a local college and, like any other of his peers, he likes to hang out with friends. His usual activities include watching movies about once or twice a month, eating at fast food restaurants about thrice a week, and other forms of entertainments, etc. Now, his family is generally well off, in the middle-income category of his country. His monthly allowance is $500, he earns about $200 from giving tuition. The thing is, every time, at the end of the month, he finds himself left with little money. Sometimes, he even has to ask for more money from his mum to top up his expenditures.

Is this situation familiar to you?

When I was around that age, I often feel that I do not have enough to spend no matter how much more money I have. I always had this urge to get the latest gadgets, change a new mobile phone, watch movies at late hours and travel by cab to go home because I felt too tired after a log day of activities.


On hindsight, I realised that I could still do those activities if I could better manage my time and money. I can hang out with friends doing what I like to do without spending much. If your friends are only surrounding you because you spend money with/on them, you might want to reconsider if these are your true friends.

I do not advocate being cheap; I advocate being frugal and money-smart. In no sequence of importance, here are my top 10 money management tips for college students:

1. Carry a water bottle

If you spend about $2 a day to buy drinks, carrying a water bottle will save you $56 dollars in 4 weeks, or $728 a year. This is simply because you won’t have to spend that money and you can still quench your thirst.

2. Set aside some cash in different compartments of your wallet

Ever found some extra cash in your wallet? Did you feel happy finding them “out of nowhere”? I know I did. By doing this, I trick my mind into thinking I have lesser cash on hand to spend, so I won’t spend unnecessarily. This is especially useful in “emergency” moments.

3. Carry less cash; withdraw just enough money from your bank

The concept is similar to point 2. The idea is to hold lesser cash. When you open your wallet and find that you only have $5, chances are you’re less likely to spend it. Of course, if you do need to spend it, you’ll have to withdraw money from your ATM card. This gives you more time to think whether it is a need to spend that money.

4. Track your cashflow

About 95% of my peers, in college days, do not know where their money come from and go to. They have little or no idea they spend an obscene percentage of their money on entertainment, food, transportation, and clothing. I challenge you to track your money-in and money-out for three whole months. You’ll know what I mean. I use an iPhone app to help me do so. It is ExpenSense. You can use any other similar applications to help you too.

5. Save before you spend

This is essentially the “Pay Yourself First” principle. This compels you to treat savings as an expense. This way, your habit will be to earn-save-spend, rather than earn-spend-save. This habit will have a huge impact on how rich you become in future. -winks-

6. Go home early

Go home early. I am not saying staying out late is bad. I am saying staying out late is expensive. Imagine taking transport home with late night charges. The more you do this, the faster your money will deplete. If you have your “own” car, you have to know that the fuel requires money too. Who pays that money? You can always go out with your friends in the day time and go home before the late night charges kick in.

7. Pay with your credit/debit card

By using your credit or debit card, you can track your expenses for the month on a single record. This will help you have a better idea of how you spend your money, i.e. your spending pattern.

8. Always pay up your credit bills on time

If you do hold on to a credit card, you ought to know that an average interest rate is 20% of your credit bills if you fail to pay up. For example, if you spend $100 on credit and you missed your payment at the end of the month, you’re going to pay an additional $20 on top of your $100. This is not worth it. Pay up on time, at the end of the month. Avoid delayed nightmare.

9. Be accountable

This is the easiest and the hardest to do. Be accountable of how you spend your money. Talk to someone whom you can trust. It is even better if that someone is more experienced in handling money wisely. It need not be your parents. If you really could not find anybody, you can journal down your thoughts on how you spend your money every month. This way, you’ll be more aware of the stewardship of your money.

10. Take charge of your financial education

If you do not control your money, someone else is going to control your money. Financial education is, by far, the best financial investment anybody can have. It is relatively inexpensive. You can grab a book to read and learn. You can attend seminars. You can talk to people who have more insight in a certain money topic than you. Keep learning.

There you go, these are my top 10 money management tips for college students. I hope you have had a good read. Feel free to contact me to connect with me. Lastly, do share this article if you find it useful. I did not include this in the 10 tips, but one more money management tip is to GIVE. Be generous; share the love.

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