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There’s no doubt that college can be one of the most incredible times in a young person’s life. There’s so much to learn, so many people to meet, and so much more freedom than high school.
Unfortunately, one negative aspect of this newfound freedom is that many college students take on significant amounts of debt. In fact, the average student loan debt has now climbed to $35,000. Although the cost of a university education is rising, much of this student loan debt is a result of poor budgeting and the student taking out more money than they need.
Furthermore, when people hear the word “budget” they typically think of something restricting and unpleasant. The truth is, though, that a budget can help teach you how to get through college without debt and enjoy the experience all at the same time.
Even if your parents are footing the bill for school and giving you an allowance, a budget is still extremely helpful. Set a specific amount you will save and you plan to spend, and then make sure that you can cover your expenses including food, entertainment, dates with the money you planned.
A budget doesn’t have to be restricting. Rather, it’s a tool to show you where your money is going. With a budget, at the end of the month (or even better, at the end of each week) you can track your spending to see how you’re doing.
Many people go into debt while in college, because their spending is out of control. They buy designer clothes even though they make very little income. They go on lavish spring break trips and use their student loan money to fund it. If you want to graduate college debt free, you might have to go without these experiences. If it's a priority, you should take a long hard look at your spending to make sure it’s on track with being able to enjoy debt free life in the future.
Just because you are in college doesn’t mean you have to have a minimum wage job. If there is a disconnect between what you should be spending and what you are spending, you have two choices. You can either cut back on your spending or increase your income. If you feel like your spending is under control, start to look at some new job options.
You can work on campus, but you can also choose work in a variety of other areas that may help you gain experience for your future. You can work for a moving company on the weekends, you can deliver newspapers every morning, you can babysit, and you can tutor. You can also start your business right from your dorm room. The sky is the limit! It is possible you can both graduate from college debt free and have fun at the same time. To do this, keep in mind, you need to make money. Your earned money will allow you the freedom to do what you want when you want without having to call up your parents and ask them to send you more cash.
Ultimately, if you want to know how to get through college without debt, it is a combination of factors. You should attend a school you can afford, keep a detailed budget, and work hard to cover your expenses. It will take some discipline, but we promise that your future self will thank you when you graduate debt free.