“Live like a college student now, so you don’t have to later.” It might seem a little cliché, but this expression offers sensible advice. While you may dream of earning a top salary when you graduate from college, it is important not to spend money as if you have already landed a great paying job.

There are many things you can do while you are in school to help ease the financial burden.

  • Be aware of your spending. Keep track of everything running through your checking account and your student account.
  • Be smart with your credit cards. Charge only the amount you expect to be able to pay back when your billing statement comes each month. Never let anyone else borrow your card and limit the number of accounts you have to one or two.
  • Learn to say “no” to your friends. Chances are, others are also feeling a financial pinch, so, every once in a while, suggest an alternative that requires spending less or no money.
  • Avoid overspending on food. If you live on campus, choose the meal plan that is best for your needs. Don’t eat out often if you have meals you can use at the dining hall. If you live off camps, make a trip to the grocery store to stock up before overspending on fast food.
  • Take advantage of student discounts. You might be surprised at how many places offer a student discount. It never hurts to ask, and it usually involves no more than showing your school ID card.
  • Curb your vending machine usage. Spending just a dollar a day at vending machines during a four-year degree program will cost over $1,000 more than purchasing the same volume of snacks from a grocery store.
  • Stay away from payday and title loans, check-cashing stores, rent-to-own stores and pawn shops. The instant gratification you may get from using these businesses is sure to be overshadowed by the increased cost you pay for doing business with them.
  • Consider all costs related to moving off-campus. Security deposits, utilities, food, cooking supplies, cleaning materials, renter’s insurance, basic household items, and transportation should all factor into the decision and your future budget.
  • Talk to your roommates about financial matters. Make sure it is clear upfront what each person’s responsibilities are when it comes to rent, utilities, and food expenses.