College is a whole new start. You’re moving away from your family, some are even moving miles away from their entire support system. It can be scary moving into a new environment knowing that you are going to have to become more financially dependent on yourself, but there are resources available for you and with the right mindset you can make it happen!
Have you thought about saving money before you get to college? As you approach the end of high school you should start to think about ways that you can save money. If you have a job you can try to pick up a couple extra shifts, try to use public transportation more, make your own coffee at home, and maybe even try shopping less at department stores. Start with small changes to your everyday life and move toward not spending money as often on certain things. A plan like this, starting small, can save you lots of money and can be the difference between stressing out everyday over money and stressing out a couple times a month about money.
Becoming financially independent is stressful. There is no way around the stress (if you do find yourself 100% stress-free make sure to let me and everyone else around you know how you did it)! There is a learning curve involved and it is best to take it one step at a time. Spook warning: rent is expensive and the totals add up quickly! Generally, rent is going to be the biggest stress factor in your budget. Take a look at the Financial Flight Plan blog, Time to Look for Housing!, for more information on tips to finding the right apartment for your budget.
In college you’ll have the options of student loans, but it is good practice to only take out the amount needed. A reasonable goal would be to have enough money saved in order to use it towards your groceries and gas/travel expenses. If you are able to only take out student loans for tuition and housing expenses you should consider doing that. For scholarships create an account at saltmoney.org/uoregon. Also, look at the Scholarship Bulletin Board of companies that have notified the financial aid office about scholarships they are offering!
Make sure you are having fun with your new found freedom! Try to get creative with dinners at home with friends instead of eating out! There are so many options and even if you might not be the best cook in town, one of your friends is bound to know what they are doing. One night I got together with a group of friends and we made chicken teriyaki with rice in pineapple bowls. Each person brought one ingredient to contribute to the meal and it was B.Y.O.P(ineapple). We had so much fun and it didn’t break the bank for anyone! Pinterest is great for brainstorm some fun meals.
Just because becoming more financially independent is an adult task does not mean you cannot have any fun with it! Always try to look for creative ways to save money, stretch your dollar, and still create memories you will remember forever.