People say the “Freshman 15” is the big thing to watch out for when you start college, but being a “big spender” is definitely something to keep an eye on. Beginning college sometimes means that you are now responsible for most or ALL of your finances. That can include paying rent, buying groceries, school fees, tuition… the list goes on. That is why understanding your personal financial situation and being smart with your money is important. Using these tips will help you limit your spending to what is necessary, not what is desired.

Don’t Go Too Crazy On School Gear
The branded school t-shirts, sweaters, mugs, the notebooks, they’re just too cool to pass up aren't they? There’s so much variety to choose from that you just want one in every colour. Some students spend hundreds of dollars on these items and they only end up wearing the clothes once. Even for the accessories like notebooks and mugs, it’s not necessary to buy more than one or two. It’s okay to have school spirit but just remember that you don’t have to buy the whole store.

Be Careful With Credit Cards
Credit cards are great to have because they help build your credit, but it is also a gateway to overspending and buying unnecessary things. To avoid this, only use your credit card. It would also be ideal to stick to one credit card. Start with a $500-$1000 maximum limit. Most importantly, only use your credit when you have the money to pay it off immediately. By keeping this habit, you will lower your chances of spending money you don’t have. Finally, make sure you understand you credit card statements. Not  every payment period begins at the start of the month. If you have any questions, consult your bank.

Budget For the Necessities
The first step to managing your spending habits is to create a budget. This probably isn’t the first time you’ve been told to do this. Maybe you have tried to budget before and it was unsuccessful. If that’s the case, try setting another one and sticking to it. There’s no harm in trying to create a better plan for yourself. Budgeting is great for anyone trying to control their spending habits, not just college students.

You can start by writing down your monthly expenses, like bills, food, school supplies and tuition Once you have your expenses written out, everything will come into perspective. You can easily determine the amount of money needed to pay for your necessities, as well as how much money you have to spend freely (but wisely).

Set Financial Goals
After determining a budget, figuring out what to do with the extra money is also important. Having miscellaneous cash does not mean that you should go out and splurge. Instead, set goals on what you want to save the extra money for. Whether it’s a piggy bank, a jar, or a savings bank account

Buy Used Textbooks
Textbooks can cost students hundreds, or even thousands a year. The first year is usually the most expensive because students  are not aware of the much cheaper options that are available. If possible, try to refrain from buying brand new textbooks. Rent them from your school’s bookstore or look at websites like Amazon and eBay because their prices are usually cheaper.