Your time as a student is ideal for learning how to budget. You are incurring a bunch of costs with little to no income. If you learn how to track your spending now, it will only become easier for you in the future.
Create a budget using excel or one of many apps such as MINT. This is where you will track how much money you have in on hand, in your checking account, savings account. Additionally, you’ll use this budget to track expenses you’re expecting such as rent payments, loan payments, fraternity dues, food , textbooks…ect. Don’t let your accounts payable surprise you. Be prepared for payments before they arrive.
If you are planning on taking out a student loan, first do everything you can to find scholarships to minimize the amount you need to borrow. Look for financial aid opportunities as well. Student loans can become daunting and cannot be forgiven. Government loans from the US Dept. of Education’s Sallie Mae have favorable interest rates than other bank financing options. I took out a loan from Sallie Mae and was able to repay it within a year to avoid any daunting interest payments. Don’t forget to account for student loans when you’re filing your taxes
Remember to utilize this money sparingly, you will need to pay it back and you do not need to use everything they give you. Spend cautiously and prioritize items based on things you need vs. things you want. Additionally, shop for the best prices with items such as textbooks. You can likely take them out from the library for free. If you would like additional money for non-necessity items such as cash for the bar when you go out, look into picking up part time work. I washed windows a few times a week to help pay for items such as motorcycles, firearms, and beer. These purchases were not used at the same time.
If you get a credit card for yourself, use it as if it was debit card. Do not spend money that you will be unable to repay at the end of the month. Using a credit card effectively can positively impact your credit score. Aim to spend less than 1/3 of your limit each month and pay it back in full by the deadline. Credit cards I found to provide the greatest returns include the Chase Freedom card and the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express.
When you graduate, know whom you owe money to and develop a plan to pay back back lenders as quickly as possible. It will only cost more and hurt you in the future if ignored. Make sure you are having fun along the way, but not at the cost of your credit score. This will make items such as financing a house or car more affordable for your future.