Advice from Sally: Achieving financial independence as a college student

Learning how to navigate personal finances in college is crucial before you graduate. Incorporate healthy financial habits now by following these tips.  

  • Evaluate your expenses 

Evaluating your expenses is the first step you should take when becoming financially independent. Start tracking what you spend by keeping a journal of your weekly expenses. Once you have recorded a week or two of expenses, determine what you can reduce and what needs to be prioritized. Your expense record can then be used to create a budget. This is a great way to analyze your spending habits and cut unnecessary expenses.  


  • Create a budget  

Creating a budget is extremely important when becoming financially independent. You are now in charge of your finances; therefore, you must create and maintain a budget. Using your journal of expenses, create a list of priority items such as groceries, housing and essential bills. If this sounds daunting, there are apps to help create budgets. For example, PocketGuarda money management appconnects to your bank account to create a personalized budget. Once you’ve established a realistic budget, stay consistent with it. Being able to stick to a budget is an invaluable life skill.  


  • Work part of full time 

Getting a part-time or full-time job while in college is a great way to create a source of income. School is a major time commitment, however, if you have spare time, consider a part-time job. This could even be an on-campus job, that way you don’t have to rush from your classes to go to work. Campus Life offers student employment to current UNCW students with a 2.5 GPA or better.  


  • Save money 

Start saving money now, even if you are on a tight budget. Whether you can save $5 each week or $50, regularly depositing into a savings account will help you build financial independence. Your savings account can serve as an emergency fund to fall back on in case your income comes to a halt. Developing the healthy habit of saving money will benefit you in the long run. 


  • Build your credit  

Credit is built by borrowing money and paying the loan back on time. The best way to build your credit is by getting a credit card and using it responsibly. My advice is to use your credit card to pay for things you know you will be able to pay back within the allotted time frame. Responsibility is key when using a credit card. You want to build credit; not go into debt.  


  • Use student discounts  

Student discounts are everywhere, both online and offline. Many of your favorite Wilmington restaurants offer student discounts when you present your ID. El Cerro Grande and Islands Fresh Mex Grill are just two of the many restaurants that offer student discounts. Bring your student ID with you and always ask about student discounts.  


Seahawks, prepare for your future nowCreate a budget, start saving and become financially independent.