Most people assume that their finances will be up in the air until they’ve earned a degree and settled into a comfortable salaried position. But it’s becoming more pressing for college-age adults to begin seriously contemplating their finances and building stability as early in life as possible. Between the skyrocketing costs of rent and houses to the heightened cost of living, every new adult needs to plan ahead to give themselves the best future. Have a look at how to become financially stable in college.

Did you know that you can still earn money and build savings while you’re earning your bachelor’s degree? Being in college doesn’t automatically mean you have to be broke or postpone financial responsibilities for later in life. In fact, the sooner you start thinking about budgeting and wealth, the more money you’ll have later on. Here’s how to get started.

Build Financial Literacy

Money smarts isn’t intuitive. No one is born knowing how to manage a budget, apply for loans or make the right choices when it comes to credit cards. Instead, responsible adults acquire something called financial literacy. This means you understand not only how to use money but also make smart decisions about it. One of the most important topics you should cover in college is loans.

To avoid crippling student debt and financial struggles later, think about how you’re paying for school and what affect your loans will have on your future income. To find greater balance, you may consider borrowing a student loan from a private lender to pay for your undergrad degree. Private lenders are becoming more favorable for students due to their low interest rates and various options to pay back later on after graduation.

Start Small

Even being able to manage a weekly budget is a major accomplishment and can set you up to be able to tackle larger ones like understanding a credit report down the line. Small goals help prepare you for greater responsibilities, so do not be afraid to begin just by setting a limit on your spending. The first thing you should do is sit down and take a look at your most recent bank statement. In the last 30 days, how many charges were for necessary expenses, and how many were unnecessary?

Certain things you deem essential could actually passively drain your bank account. If you only go to the gym twice a month, for example, paying for a monthly subscription is not the best use of your money. If you feel overwhelmed tracking your expenses on your own, don’t worry. There are plenty of apps on the market that can help you build a budget easily. Check out Mint and YNAB (You Need a Budget) for iOS and Android smartphones.

Put Savings Before Spending

You could go out for yet another afternoon Starbucks run, or you could make coffee at home and put the $5 you were going to spend in savings. Even just $10 a month equals $120 a year. This may not sound like much when the cost of living is so high, but you’ll be grateful for $100 or $200 in the bank when there’s an emergency. It can be hard to break the habit of casual spending, so give yourself a little leeway. When you slip up, don’t assume you simply can’t save and go back to your old ways. Be consistent, and set reminders. It can even be helpful to place a note on your bank card so you pause and think twice about every purchase.

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