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Financial guidelines for students

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1. Avoid credit cards, embrace debit

As a student with no stable source of income it is advisable to spend only what you have. Credit cards are the opposite of this since they let you spend what you do not have. Paying credit card bills at the end of the month may be cumbersome and you must also take into consideration that banks will use your credit history in college to inform future financial decisions. You credit card history is like your reputation; once it’s gone you can’t get it back.

2. Save, save and save

There is a misinformed notion among most young people that only the old should save for their retirement. However if you don’t want to end up retired yet you have no substantial wealth to show for it then you should start saving as early as possible. It is never too early to start saving and preparing for your retirement. One should also consider that various reasons may force you to retire early e.g. retrenchment, sickness and emergencies.

3. Work with a budget

This is probably the most fundamental tip and relates to planning out your short term and long term financial goals and sticking to them through thick and thin. As far as money is concerned the most important thing one should do is to plan ahead of time such that situations don’t get the better of you. When you budget your money you also avoid impulse buying which often destabilizes your finances.

4. Separate wants from needs

Usually this is done after you have stayed and experienced campus life for a while. After a while you would have known how campus life works and therefore in a position to separate your needs from you wants and give priority to your needs. Your wants should only be met when you have surplus money after saving of course.

5. Have an emergency fund

It is a well known fact that at times events that have not been planned for otherwise known as emergencies may occur. Such events should not drain your savings and instead you should have a separate fund for these types of occurrences. This emergency fund should probably be kept in an interest making savings account so that your money keeps working for you.

6. Look for scholarships not loans

Students should only take loans as a last resort after all other avenues of funding have not worked out. Most students are not aware that there are a multitude of scholarship opportunities out there for them especially for girls and students from marginalized communities. Students should therefore research and apply to any scholarship opportunities that are relevant to them.

7. Be prompt with payments

You must aim to discipline yourself to meet all your financial obligations on time; be it loan payments, fees payment, rent payment they should all be paid on time. This is because late payment usually results in the surcharging of the account holder which you don’t want since you are already tight on cash as it is.

8. Take advantage of student accounts

There are certain companies and institutions that have special rates to students, take advantage of these to cut your costs down and save more money. E.g. most banks offer student accounts that usually have fewer charges levied on them in comparison to regular accounts.

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