The Best Way to Save for College – Start Today
May 19th, 2020 - by Jen
College is really expensive these days! There are hardly any ways to avoid those big costs. In fact, according to most financial professionals, the average college graduate carries about $38,000 in student loan debt! That is just the average; depending on the program and school you choose, it could be far more expensive than that.
While these massive sums can be intimidating, there is plenty that you can do to prevent yourself from to drowning in debt.
Far too many young people expect their parents to pay for their education. This is not an option for most kids, nor should it be. After all, it is your education, why wouldn’t you pitch in?
Below you will find some tips that will help you establish healthy money habits and save money for college.
1. Start Looking for a Job
Whether you are working a full time summer job, or working part time after school, a job is a great way to earn some money for college. Not only will a job allow you to put some money aside for college, you will gain valuable work experience that will help you land a more serious job after graduation.
There are plenty of jobs available to teenagers. If you are someone who enjoys the outdoors, consider looking at working as a camp councilor at a summer camp. You can also apply for tree planting jobs, landscaping positions, and garden center work.
If you really want to make some money for your college fund, try applying to some restaurants in your area. Waiters and waitresses can make a really good income from tips. The best thing about the restaurant industry is you can apply for these jobs everywhere. When you get to college, you might want to look at part time restaurant jobs near your campus.
There is also plenty of work available for cashiers and stock clerks. If you do not have much in the way of job experience, you can usually still land one of these positions. Remember, most jobs have employee discounts. If there is a particular clothing store you like, consider dropping off a job application there.
2. Open a Savings Account
If you want to make sure you are actually putting money aside for college, rather than spending it on other things, you really should open up a savings account.
As you may have guessed from the name, a savings account is designed to be a safe place to hold your savings. The idea is that you would consistently contribute to this account and let the total grow.
Think of your savings account as the adult version of a piggy bank. You want to leave this money alone and only access it when it comes time to pay for college. The best way to do this is to set up an automatic transfer. Whenever you get paid from your part time or summer job, you can have a set amount of money automatically transfer from your daily checking account to the savings account holding your college fund.
Not only will a savings account remove the temptation to spend your college money, you will actually earn a small amount of interest on the total. This means that the bank will actually pay you a small percentage of your total savings if you keep your money in that savings account.
Most major banks will also offer savings accounts that are specifically designed for students. Even if you do not yet qualify for a student-specific savings account, most savings accounts have no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.
Learning how to maintain savings using a bank account will teach you basic financial habits that will help you throughout your life.
3. Get Into the Habit of Saving Money Instead of Spending it
This almost goes without saying, but if you want to save up money for college, you are going to have to change your spending habits. When you are first starting to make money, there is always going to be the temptation to treat yourself. This is an adjustment you are going to have to make.
As mentioned above, college is extremely expensive. Unless you want to graduate with hefty debts, you are going to have to start putting a decent chunk of your earnings aside. This is where automatic payments to a savings account can really help. Set up a preauthorized transfer so that every time your paycheck is deposited into your checking account, a portion of it moves to your savings account.
You basically just want to remove the temptation to spend your money on impulse purchases. If you come across something you really want to buy, try waiting 24 hours. If you can still justify making that purchase after a waiting period, you can make the decision.
Remember, when it comes to savings, no amount is too little. Even if you receive money as a birthday gift, consider putting a portion of it into your savings fund.
4. Apply for Every Scholarship You Can
When it comes time to apply for college, you should also look into scholarship and bursary options. Think about it this way, scholarships are essentially free money you can put towards your college tuition that you do not have to pay back.
There are plenty of scholarships out there that the average student is not aware of. Even if you do not have overly impressive grades or athletic ability, it is still worth looking at the scholarships your chosen college offers.
Many scholarships receive a low number of applications because some students do not have to worry about paying for college themselves. Take advantage of these low application rates, you never know what you might qualify for. Think about how little time it takes to apply to a scholarship and compare it to how many hours you would have to work to earn that same amount of money.
The best thing about scholarships is you can apply for them every single year you are enrolled in college.
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