Beat Inflation: 5 Tips to Help STEM College Students
Inflation has both long-term and short-term effects and increased cost of basic necessities like food and transportation affects everyone especially if you’re a student who forgo full-time employment to dedicate time to your STEM studies. The average estimated budget (including tuition, fees, accommodation and personal expenses) for an in-state student at a public, four-year university was $27,940 for the 2022-23 academic year—up $1,350 since the 2019-20 school year.
Here are 5 tips and suggestions that you should keep in mind to beat inflation and keep your savings intact.
1. Create a budget
One of the best ways to beat inflation is to prepare a budget or spending plan. This will ensure that you watch what you buy and only spend on items you need. Budgeting will help you cover unexpected expenses, such as a job loss, illness, or car repair.
Start by managing and recording your actual expenses, even the smallest ones, since coffee or movie tickets can add up to large monthly amounts; then identify whether each item on the list is necessary and prioritize the items in descending order (from most to least important).
At the start of each month, review your expenses from the previous month. Keep in mind that it is better to overestimate than to not have enough money to cover your basic needs.
What expenses can you consider?
– Supplies and technology: bags, notebooks, notepads, computers, headphones, and any other necessary items.
– Clothing: to attend college if you are attending college in person.
– Furnishings and dorm/apartment rentals: for your college stay.
– Food: it is essential that you estimate at least three meals a day. We recommend cooking at home to save you the unnecessary expense of eating out and avoid shopping groceries hungry without planning first. When you make a shopping list ahead of time, you can buy only what you need. Also, paying with cash at the supermarket can help you stay within your budget.
-Transportation: Some car insurance companies offer discounts to students who meet GPA requirements.
– Entertainment: movie tickets, concerts, or any other casual outing with your friends should be included in your budget.
2. Separate your expenses into: fixed and variable expenses
After making a list of your monthly expenses, it is time to classify those that are fixed and those that are variable.
Consider having two bank accounts: one for fixed expenses, such as tuition, rent, insurance, food and debt payments; and one for variable expenses, such as gym membership, dining out and leisure purchases. That way, if your income decreases, you can cancel your gym membership or postpone a vacation without major consequences.
3. Use apps to track your expenses
Once you have labeled your fixed and variable expenses, download a budgeting app and record all your monthly expenses. Check your bank and credit card history to get the exact amounts. These tools offer helpful visuals to display your spending trends and help you save cash to meet various goals. By setting aside money for specific goals, you can meet your monthly payments and save for the future.
If you see that your expenses are too high, we recommend making adjustments, such as limiting take-out dinners and canceling streaming subscriptions that you don’t use regularly.
4. Look into the internet for discounts and use your credit card wisely
College students often qualify for discounts on utilities like WiFi and equipment like laptops. The Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program allows students who receive Federal Pell Grants to qualify for monthly internet service discounts, along with one-time discounts on computer purchases.
Also, your student ID card can get you some valuable special discounts. For example, with a student email address you can create a Prime Student account on Amazon and receive exclusive college deals and promotions.
Buying new textbooks every semester can get expensive. Fortunately, students can rent course materials or buy used textbooks. If you do not plan to keep a book, try renting it physically or digitally through sites like Amazon.
Most importantly, avoid using your credit card. We know they can be tempting, but to avoid overspending, treat them like debit cards and avoid using them unless you really need them and can pay them off immediately.
We suggest you don’t have more than one and pay the entire balance due monthly to avoid interest. Consider using it only to pay for one type of expense each month, so you won’t be tempted to overextend.
Making your monthly payments on time will be one of the most important factors in not ruining your credit score. This means that you should always make at least the minimum amount that is due each month.
If you think paying your credit card bill late every once in a while, isn’t a big deal, you’re definitely wrong. Your payment history is the most important factor that makes up your FICO score. This means a single late payment could cause serious damage to your score, but it also means multiple late payments could harm it even more. Lenders want to see a consistent history of paying back on time and will be more likely to lend to you at better rates if you can demonstrate this.
The mistake I made in college was not to pay all my bills on-time. The truth is that once your debt starts growing with interest, it can be very hard to pay if off, especially in your early 20s, when your salary is at its lowest point.
5. Submit the FAFSA Form and Apply for scholarships
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is required for any student to qualify for federal student aid. You must resubmit the FAFSA every year to learn whether you qualify for a work-study program a federal student loan or any other type of federal aid.
Get help applying for STEM scholarships
Navigating the sheer number of STEM scholarships out there can be challenging for students. Scholarships that look appealing because of their funding amount may not be right for your choice of major subject or university. Others get overlooked because they are new and not many people have heard about them.
At IOScholarships, we take the hassle out of the process of identifying and applying for the right scholarships. We are a community dedicated to securing debt-free education for students from diverse backgrounds.
Join us today to get access to thousands of curated scholarships and financial education resources. And trust us to find the STEM scholarships that are perfect for you!