When you have a hefty student loan payment every month, it’s easy to feel financially strained even with a diploma in hand. This can make the idea of living comfortably seem unrealistic. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to make these precarious times a little more lavish.
Optimize Your Credit Cards
Not all credit cards are created equally. Some services offer favorable perks for paying off your private loans for school, including lower interest rates, rewards for good grades, and more. Over time, these advantages can accumulate to make a big difference for you and your wallet.
Properly utilizing credit cards is also a great way to increase your credit score, which comes in handy down the road. This tiny bit of extra diligence now can make or break your ability to make major financial decisions in future, such as getting approval for a mortgage loan.
Take Advantage of Discounts and All Things Free
Living as a college student teaches you valuable life lessons like how to be thrifty when it really matters. Living off ramen noodles in barely habitable conditions is a considerable test of fortitude, but it prepares you for what life throws at you.
Being a college student or a recent grad often entails discounts if you know where to look. Check concert venues, museums, and art exhibitions for discounts or freebies for college students or young professionals. This is just one reason why you should hold onto your college ID and make use of your student email address while it lasts.
Libraries might seem like monoliths of the past but don’t underestimate them; you can find a wide selection of books, ebooks, and movies at no cost to you. Before shelling out the cash for that movie you’re looking for, check out the local library. You might be surprised at what you can find for free.
Prioritize Your Spending
You don’t have to spend like royalty to live a comfortable life; all you need to do is fine-tune your daily indulgences and trim out what you don’t need. If you abhor the idea of forgoing your daily cup of joe, don’t fear – you can make it work.
If you budget for daily expenses like coffee and a bagel ahead of time, it ensures you live within your means. This way you won’t have a panic attack because your credit card bill ends up larger than you expected.
If you want to take an extra step in managing your personal finance, see what you can do yourself. If you buy coffee every day, it might be worth it to invest in a coffee machine and make it yourself. If you find you are spending more than you think reasonable on a monthly gym membership, consider looking at other gyms or even investing in equipment to workout at home.
Make Money Off What You Already Have
Don’t overlook the value of the things you already have. Services like Airbnb allow you to rent out that extra room in your house or apartment. Since people generally only use the room for a short term, it can mean a good deal of extra money in your pocket in exchange for a quick stay – and without much work on your part. Demand for a room can increase exponentially on the weekend of a big concert or sports game, so stay vigilant as to what is going on in your area.
Likewise, if you have a car that fits the required criteria and a little bit of free time, consider the benefits of becoming an Uber or Lyft driver. This is a quick and easy way to make some extra cash on your own time. It’s something that nearly anyone can do to supplement their income. For some people, it’s even a full-time job.
If you have any junk or unused things in your house, selling it to someone who wants it is a win-win. This will give you some extra space in your house while putting some easy cash in your pocket. Gently used clothes or electronics can easily be sold on apps or websites while donating items to charitable organizations are often good for a helpful tax refund.
Live In A Place That Fits Your Situation
Certain neighborhoods are more popular with young people for a reason: it makes sense for them. Look around when choosing an apartment or house to call home and find a place that fits the budget. The last thing you want is to be spending all your money on a decadent penthouse while barely treading water financially. Instead, live in a more modest household while you allow your wealth to accumulate for something better down the road.
If live in a nice place but find yourself living from paycheck to paycheck, don’t feel like a place with cheaper rent will necessarily be a downgrade. Certain pieces of real estate have inflated value merely because of their proximity to something deemed valuable by other people than yourself. Houses near schools are sometimes more expensive due to the obvious appeal to people with children, but if you don’t have kids, there’s no reason to be paying like you do.
Living comfortably is possible, even with student debt! While you may not be able to eat avocado toast every morning, some careful planning and financially-smart decisions can help ensure you have the money to splurge when you need.
For more awesome college tips, check out the rest of College Basics blogs.