College is a whirlwind of new experiences. Alongside all the new people, being out on your own for the first time and demanding academics, it can be tough to balance such practical concerns as being smart with your time, getting enough sleep and managing your money. Fortunately, there are apps and other tech tools to help you with all of that. Like most people, you probably have a fixed amount of money from savings, scholarships and loans that you need to make last until the end of each semester. Even if you’re a novice to budgeting and managing your own money, there are plenty of technological solutions to help.
How much do you know about budgeting, saving and spending anyway? What are interest rates and why might they matter to you? If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to thinking about financial matters, you shouldn’t feel bad. Plenty of adults are lacking in financial literacy as well. Fortunately, there are apps aimed at teaching you more about your money, including those that gamify learning. Some of them may be aimed at younger kids, but they’re still not bad places to start if you’re really in the dark.
Budgeting is basically a matter of adding up what you have to spend across a semester and dividing it across the weeks in the semester to come up with how much you have to spend each week. There are budget calculators and apps that can help you create a budget and track your spending. The latter can be particularly helpful because it can be tricky to estimate costs that aren’t fixed, like how much you spend for food and entertainment. Some apps will even send you push notifications if you are spending too much in one category.
When You Don’t Have Enough
It’s possible that even though you’ve been careful and responsible, with your budgeting, your expenses just exceed the money you have. College is expensive, and the help offered by federal financial aid has not really kept up with the ever-growing tuition costs. You might need to take out private student loans. Technology can help you here as well, with comparison engines and easy-to-complete online applications that accept or reject you quickly. These loans can be easy to apply for and may offer favorable interest rates, but if you’re only 18 or 19, chances are you haven’t had time to build up a credit record. This means you might need a parent or someone else to cosign on the loan for you. Keep in mind that after you graduate and it’s time to repay your debts, not making payments on time can affect your cosigner’s credit. Fortunately, technology can help here as well, allowing you to set up automatic payments.
Digital Banking Opportunities
You might actually be able to save some money by switching to an online-only banking. These banks have a lower overhead, and the savings are often passed on to customers. At minimum, it may be worth exploring what options are available. There may also be bonuses for recommending these products to friends and family. Since they are already digitally-based, these types of products may also integrate better with money management apps.