Student debt got you down? Even if you haven’t graduated yet, it’s easy to stress over the impending financial impact that your tuition and loans will have on your adult life. As an entry-level worker, you likely won’t have thousands of dollars leftover every month. Between trying to finance your first apartment or save up for down payment on a house, it can be difficult to envision a future that doesn’t revolve around getting yourself out of student debt. Some people know for a fact that their own children will be entering college while they’re still paying off their own student loans.
You can get ahead by starting to budget now. While you’re still in college, building good money management skills will prepare you for the future. Budgeting is the most important skill of them all because it helps you understand where your money is going, where it needs to be and how to save responsibly. Whether you’re a freshman who just left home or a senior applying for jobs, you can benefit from these mobile phone applications to get your finances in order and on the right track. They’re ideal for every student no matter how much student debt they anticipate in the future.
You don’t even have to be out of school to start thinking about how you’ll repay your loans. By adopting a money management strategy today, you’ll find it almost second nature to stay on top of bills, loan repayments and more. You’ll also be able to reach your savings goals more easily and feel confident about your financial growth.
One of the most popular budgeting apps on the market, Mint is free and easy for anyone to pick up and start using immediately. This money tracking up helps you keep a running log of all your expenses so you don’t overspend or under budget. You can link this app directly to your bank account, so you won’t have to deal with the hassle of manually writing down every deposit and deduction.
In addition to being a huge timesaver, Mint is also a solid app to introduce you to the core principles of budgeting. Inside the platform, you’ll set a monthly budget and be able to add as many specifics as you want. If your goal is to just stay under $200 in spending, that’s fine. But you can also make things more aligned to your current situation or goals.
You may think about applying for a personal loan to help get your finances in order, then using an app to monitor your spending and repayment. You can put what you borrow toward college tuition and living expenses and avoid hefty federal student loans. You’ll also have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms can also make it easier for you to match your loan to your lifestyle.
Mint is considered one of the best apps because it is flexible and straightforward. You can use it when your income is low or practically non-existent just as well as when you’re earning a salary. You’ll find that it’s one of the most dependable budgeting tools out there, and it will probably become a staple in your financial planning going forward.
One of the hardest things about building savings is managing to take them out of your limited finances. If you aren’t fortunate enough to automatically earn a large surplus of cash each month, you have to stay on top of your expenses. Beyond the essentials, there’s general living and entertainment costs that can leave you with a solid $0 leftover every month. When you feel like you always have to choose between living now and saving up for a vague future, it’s easy to overspend.
Level Money can step in and let you know exactly how much you can actually afford. For students with a tight budget, this is crucial to understanding how to predict their expenses and make more responsible choices. Level Money was recently acquired by Capital One, so you know that it’s a trustworthy tool. The main focus of this app isn’t to help you build savings but instead keep track of your spendable cash. It achieves this by breaking down your income into different levels:
- Normal spending
- Don’t count this as part of my budget
You may wonder what the difference between “normal” and “income” is because they seem interchangeable. But a normal living expense is not necessarily linked to your income and vice-versa. The platform creates openness for flexibility in both earnings and budget. The one drawback is that Level Money does require some work on your end.
It won’t magically make sense of all the transactions linked to your account, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You’re forced to put some thought and effort into tracking your finances. In reality, this is actually better than relying on a technology to replace real money smarts. Instead, it’s best to use this and the other resources mentioned as tools to compliment and asset your developing skills.
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
How many times have you heard your parents talking about budgeting and immediately felt your brain turn to sludge? Even though you know from a pragmatic standpoint that saving money is important, the reality of it is boring, difficult and frustrating. If you’re working part-time or don’t have an income, holding on to what little money you do have can feel impossible.
Budgeting isn’t meant to restrict how much you have, as it’s actually the best way to grow your finances naturally. Of course, it won’t magically generate a higher income, but a good budget will help you learn how to maximize your current earnings. This lays the groundwork for future growth, and you’ll always be grateful to have that $25 put aside when you need it.
The best thing about YNAB is that it’s for complete beginners. Don’t worry, there are plenty of adults well into their 30s and 40s who still know absolutely nothing about managing a budget. Their lives are mostly dictated by what they owe, and their leftover cash is generally either thrown into some random expense or never invested into their future. Money can create an endless cycle of earning and losing without a budget. YNAB will help you assess your current spending habits and build a better money philosophy through easy savings.
It’s a good idea to start building good credit in college. As an adult, your credit score will largely impact major and necessary things like applying for an apartment or buying a car. Without a good score or credit history, you’ll likely always need a cosigner or have to pay extra. In some cases, this can be as much as three or four times what you would have to put down if you had a decent score.
But just getting a credit card and expecting to know how to use it is like riding in a plane and expecting to know how to pilot one. Credit Karma’s app can help you avoid many of the common mistakes people make with their first credit cards. In addition to keeping track of your score, you can also enable notifications for any changes to your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion, two major credit reporting bureaus.
Credit cards can be hard to manage. Even adults struggle to use theirs properly. Don’t hesitate to ask your parents for advice, but also take advantage of the free resources you have available. Apps like Credit Karma are not just for keeping your budget in check now but also planning ahead. When you have the skills to project your income and adjust your budget accordingly, you become capable of maximizing your income in the future. This includes learning how to optimize your credit use to reap the greatest rewards now and later.