4 ways to stay financially responsible this semester

The new college semester has begun for schools across the United States and a wave of students who likely have never had to budget before are about to live on their own for the first time. If you are one of those students, then you will learn fast that being smart about your bank account is vital to making it through college without the pain of watching your friends go out without you or your internet getting shut down after another missed bill.

Budgeting right, not missing payments and saving money are essential things that all students must learn during their time in college, if they hadn't already, in order to be successful in the real world. If you think you need some guidance in the financial responsibility department, then take a look at a few of the tips below:

1.) Automated savings
Automating your savings is a great way to make sure you are putting cash aside for the future, with little effort involved. HBCU Lifestyle recommended setting up an automatic deposit of, at the very least, $5 to $10 dollars a month. This is better than having a debit card, which is designed in such a way that your money is easily accessible and promotes spending. Gradually building a savings account will ensure that you don't end up spending that extra $20 dollars on something like pizza, when there's better options such as leaving it in a savings account for a time when you'll actually need it.

2.) Seek out student discounts
Many businesses close to college campuses have student discounts. Even if it is something small, like 5 percent, that will add up over time, Finovera explained. Find someone at your school who can provide you with a list of some places that offer student discounts, and when you're walking around your neighborhood keep an eye out for signs advertising such deals. Taking advantage of these wherever you find them will be another way to watch the few dollars a month you save add up over time.

3.) Keep your financial documents organized
It is vital that you keep any financial documents well organized so that you can easily find them when you need them, according to Finovera. This includes receipts, financial aid papers and bank statements. Keep each sort of document in separate folders, and then place the folders somewhere safe, that you can easily access again when needed. And if you decided to throw away any financial documents, make sure that you tear them up before hand.

4.) Make sure you are paying bills and subscriptions on time
In college you will likely start paying some sort of bill or subscription for the first time. Whether you're weaning off your parents' Netflix account and onto your own, or you're paying your first electric bill, make sure that you stick to payments and always have enough to cover them. This will develop strong financial habits for the future. Additionally, it can help you build a stronger credit score with alternative credit bureaus such as PRBC. PRBC takes into account the good things that people do with their money, instead of just the bad. This is useful for college students who, because they never had the chance to build a traditional credit score, will have trouble borrowing when school ends. Loans will be much more accessible when a more accurate credit score like the PRBC model is taking into account.

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