What does it mean to be financially well? According to Consumer Finance, there are four elements of financial well-being. These include control over your day-to-day and monthly finances, the capacity to absorb financial shock, financial freedom to make choices to enjoy life, and being on track to meet your financial goals.
College students are at a tumultuous point in their lives where they may be managing their own money independently for the first time. According to a study done by the Journal of Family and Economic Issues, “Young adults age 18–25 are in a distinct life-cycle stage. This period, known as emerging adulthood, is characterized by major life-changing experiences, including college. In the midst of these transitional life events, money, and, in particular, the credit system they have gained access to, unarguably plays a central role in shaping the attitudes they form and behaviors they adopt, not only toward financial management but also toward life in general.”
Here are 5 ways college students can make themselves financially well now and maintain that well-being in the future:
- First of all, check your spending habits and cut out mindless spending. Are you dropping $50 a month on McDonald’s? Try meal planning, which is far less expensive (and healthier) than the drive-thru.
- If your bank has an app, download it on your smartphone. It’s easier to track your spending and saving when it’s right in the palm of your hand.
- Create a budget and stick to it. There are many free budgeting apps out there to help you, like Good Budget, Level Money, or Mint.
- Start creating an emergency fund. If something unexpected happens, then you always have a cushion. According to The Vanguard Group, an emergency fund is between three and six months of living expenses. Even putting aside as little as $10 a month helps!
- Take advantage of financial help on campus, like Student Financial Services or the OU Credit Union.They have financial literacy programs aimed directly at students to build credit and create financial success.
- Be patient and stick with the budgeting system that works best for you. Soon, saving will become second nature.