Can You Build Wealth in College?

Generally speaking, college is not a place where you’d imagine building wealth. Typically, students who graduate college often owe thousands of dollars of student debt to their lenders. With all the expenses related to college, the frugal lifestyle can be difficult to achieve and it seems more likely you’ll be owing more money than you have after hanging up your cap and gown. However, there are ways you can actually build wealth in college if you’re a student. It just takes determination and a financially disciplined lifestyle to arrive at that goal, but it is possible.

Some of the multiple ways you can increase your net worth while in college include applying for scholarships and grants which will reduce how much you take out in loans. Setting up a routine where you apply weekly for scholarships will increase your chances of winning one as long as you continue to be persistent. Organizing your scholarship search and identifying the ones that’ll give you a greater chance of victory is a wise move. This is a basic, yet helpful, way to reducing the cost of college. The idea behind building wealth, after all, is limiting your expenses and increasing the amount of income you generate.

Another avenue to building wealth is investing. This can be beneficial especially for those studying economics or business. Learning about the markets and investing in stocks and bonds can be a great way to kickstart your financial growth. These assets can be bought and held on to even after graduating college and then sold once the share price has risen to a suitable level. If your major is related to finances in someway, researching the markets and getting into the investment game is a great way to learn things that might not be covered in the class room. But even if you’re not in a financial field, putting away any discretionary income into an investment account can provide some nice rewards in the future.

If you do feel overwhelmed financially and have applied to all the scholarships you can find, it might be a good idea to check out various crowdfunding sites that offer financial help for various issues. Sites like GoFundMe can allow registered members to create a campaign where you communicate your issue to the public and they donate funds for your cause, whether that’s to help pay for your last semester in college or provide housing for the homeless. As mentioned before, building wealth in college also means reducing your expenses and oftentimes crowdfunding sites can provide a decent amount of cash that won’t have to be repaid unlike student loans.

Another great option to building wealth is setting up a savings account with the highest APY you can find and contributing to it on a monthly basis. Building an emergency fund in a high yield savings account can help you pay for unforeseen expenses that would otherwise limit your ability to increasing your net worth. Typically, finding an online bank which doesn’t have the same expenses as a brick and mortar institution will offer higher yielding rates, but there are some credit unions that shouldn’t be passed up, so it’s a good idea to do your research.

If you would like to learn more ways to save in college, visit for more information.

Money Management Tips for the College Student and Their Parents

The cost of college can be eye-watering for many, if not all, students and parents alike; and it’s not just tuition fees that have to be paid, but all the living and additional costs ranging from rent to textbook purchases. With many families feeling the pinch of the economic downturn more than ever at the moment too, this makes going about college in a frugal way more important than ever. But it’s not just the student that can find ways to cut the cost of college, as it’s also the parents who will undoubtedly be funding some part (or all) of their son or daughters time at university too. Hopefully the tips below will, therefore, provide both students and parents with a few ways to make college expenses slightly more manageable.

Learning Resources:

Textbooks can cost over $100 dollars each. And if you buy all the textbooks you need, brand new, over the course of a four year degree you will spend a staggering amount. Buying second hand books is the obvious – and a very good – idea, but also consider buying older editions of the same textbook. Very often, from one edition to the next, the changes will be minimal and let’s face it, how much does a subject like math or statistics change? Also make the most of your university’s subscriptions to online journals. You’ll be able to access journals for free, and they contain more recent research findings than text books. Sharing textbooks with a class mate is also a way to half their cost which, again, can’t be a bad thing. As far as laptops and computers go, remember that a budget $400 dollar one will access facebook, allow you to type up essays, and send emails just like a MacBook can.

Discipline Yourself with Drinking and Going Out:

You want to have fun when you go to college, and don’t let money get in the way of that unless you’re in a position where you have to. But keep a cap on how much you end up blowing on beers and nights out with your friends. Think about setting a budget for this part of spending each week and sticking to it. Also, when you go out don’t take more cash than you can afford to spend and leave your debit/credit cards at home so you don’t get tempted into spending money you don’t have.

There are Times When it doesn’t Pay to Cut Costs:

Money Tips for CollegeAlthough cutting unnecessary costs and avoiding overspending should be encouraged amongst all college students, there are occasions where you need to take a more balanced view and sometimes pay that little bit extra. For example, it’s a good idea to replace takeaways with easy-to-cook homemade meals, and it’s also sometimes a good idea to replace fresh vegetables with frozen ones that are cheaper and will store for longer. But with your diet especially, you do need to consider keeping a bit of a balance. For example, whilst it might be possible to feed yourself on $10 a week, you’ll probably also end up jeopardising your health as you cut out certain food groups that are essential for a healthy lifestyle.

Another example of where it pays to spend that little bit extra is with heating bills. Students in shared houses are renowned for living in the cold to save their dollar bills, but a cold/damp house can lead to a number of health problems. For example, dampness can lead to an increase in allergens and dust mites that can exacerbate and induce asthma. A cold and damp house will also do no good for your immune system, increasing your propensity to get a cold or the flu as well.

And Some Tips for Parents:

As mentioned, most parents will take on board some or all of the financial responsibility for their son or daughters college expenses. And for that reason, you too can also have a big influence over how much money gets spent across the course of their undergraduate years. Therefore rather than giving them a lump sum of cash at the start of each semester for example, think about a weekly direct debit instead. That way, they won’t be able to spend all of their allowance at once and they’ll find it easier to budget for all the costs they encounter.

Another important thing for parents to do is to foster a relationship of mutual respect and understanding when it comes to managing college expenses. As a parent, you need to encourage your son or daughter to be open about any of the financial difficulties they might be having. That way, they won’t end up trying to sort out a problem – like a late credit card payment – themselves, which might only escalate into a bigger and bigger problem later down the line. Showing that you understand the fact that there will be other things they want to spend their money on aside from textbooks and fresh groceries will also go a long way in fostering this all important two-way line of communication.

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The Higher Education Path Not Taken

I’m not sure about you, but I have a hard time with keeping myself from constantly over-analyzing everything.  You name it, and I’ve analyzed it.  Even things that I cannot change, like my choice in Colleges.  Should I have gone to a different college?  Perhaps.

If I look at it from a strictly financial perspective, the answer is a definitive yes.  I went to Jamestown College, which is a private school.  While it isn’t the most expensive private school you can choose, it’s not nearly as affordable as a state school would have been.  Instead of the student loan debt that I am paying on now, I would have only about half of it had I gone to a state school.  Maybe less.

If I had gone to a school closer to home, I could have saved money over the summers by moving back in with my parents.  Traveling home would have been a far cheaper endeavor, and certainly would have been a shorter endeavor.  It’s over 950 miles from Jamestown to Hamilton, MT, where my parents live.  Even with the best car I had, mileage wise, it cost at least $200 to drive home and back.  And that’s without stopping along the way at a hotel.   And don’t even get me started on the money I could have saved on laundry by bringing it home and using the washer and dryer at home!

Of course, not every decision in life can be judged solely by it’s financial merits.  (Not that I was all that adept at anything financial back then anyways.)  Something as important as college has many factors that go into it’s choosing.  For me, the money did come into play simply because my family didn’t have much of it, and I needed to be able to get enough financial assistance to go to the college I chose.  I also wanted to play football, so the college had to have a team.  I’m not a big fan of lots and lots of people, so the school needed to be smaller.

Having had pretty good grades in high school, I was able to get scholarships and financial assistance to go to all of the schools that I applied to.  I had ruled out the main state schools as being too big.  They also got ruled out because I wouldn’t be able to play football.  In the end, the choice came down to a smaller state school, a private school closer to home, and Jamestown College.  All offered everything that I was looking for.  All were good schools.  What it finally came down to was friendliness.  Of the three schools I had narrowed it down to, only JC took the time have a enrollment counselor call me.  The football coach at JC was the only one to call me and personally invite me.

Sorry, I’ve gotten off on a tangent, and it’s turned into a bit of a love fest.  But, there’s a reason for that too.  It’s the funny thing about college.  No matter where a person goes to college, the college they went to was the awesomest college ever!  It’s not about the money.  It’s not about the education.  It’s not about the faculty, or even the sports teams.  Those all play a part in the choosing of the school, but, really, play very little part, if any, in how you feel about the school.  No, the college you attend is the best school because of the people you meet, the adventures you have, and the growing up (hopefully) that you do while you’re there.

When I think back on my higher education, I can say that I got a good education, but I can also say that I could have just as easily gone anywhere and gotten a good education.  I was able to play a couple of years of football, and that was cool.  I could have played at several other schools too.  I certainly could have gone to a cheaper school and had less student loan debt when I was done.  But, what really made college, college was the people I met.  Either directly, or indirectly, through college, I met my wife, and made so many friends.  We had so many shenanigans!  And that is what made college worth every penny.

Let’s do something fun.  Tell us all what college you attended in the comments below.  Maybe we’ll find some fellow alumni!  (Also, I’m curious how many of you are Ivy League-ers. :) )
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