How Students Should Save and Spend Their Money

Students should learn smart money-saving and spending habits as early as possible. Start learning how to manage your finances right here!

Understanding how to save and spend your money is the single most important aspect of reaching financial freedom. It’s how we pay for the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the items we want. It’s also how we save for the biggest moments of our lives: purchasing a car, going to college, planning a wedding, even getting your first dog. For many students, developing the habits and responsibilities to save and spend money the right way is a never-ending challenge. But creating successful habits at a young age can change your life. Although it may appear to be far-fetched, saving and spending money throughout high school and college is attainable when successful habits like these are put into practice.

Pay yourself first

This concept is the easiest to execute yet the most difficult for people to apply. Similar to an oxygen mask on a plane, you have to save yourself first before you can save others. By paying yourself and putting money in your savings account before paying bills or spending on daily living activities, you’ll learn to develop a habit that will result in long-term savings while adjusting your lifestyle around the funds that are available to you. If you start this habit now, you’ll be in good shape for your first start-up, corporate job, or side hustle. 

Related: Adulting 101: How to Understand Your Finances

Automation, automation, automation

I cannot stress utilizing automation enough. Technology is at the forefront of all our activities. Leveraging automation to save and invest is key to growing a nest egg intentionally and consistently. For example, if you work part-time while attending school and are paid weekly or biweekly, determine a dollar amount to have automatically transfer from your checking account to a savings account after your pay date—and set it up as a recurring transfer. Keep in mind, a savings account is for the purpose of saving. Therefore, be mindful that the amount you transfer to the savings account isn’t needed right away, as too many withdrawals from a savings account can result in the bank converting your savings account to a checking account.

Review your bank activity

How much are you spending on rideshare services, food, entertainment, college material, and so forth? Most banking institutions allocate expenses into various categories with details to help you understand how you’re spending your money. What changes can you make to have better control over how you’re spending? Are you spending because you need to or because you want to? We all make mistakes with money; spending too often or buying something that’s too expensive leaves us all looking at our bank statements in shock at some point. A massive mistake that’s made in spending too much money revolves around student loans. If you absolutely do not need student loans to pay for college expenses, don’t take them out.  

Alter your needs, wants, and desires

The unfortunate truth for nearly all college students is that they can’t simply buy whatever they want, whenever they want. Eating at fancy restaurants, buying expensive clothes, and other poor spending habits will make your money vanish. Students who spend their money freely and never review their itemized transactions have limited knowledge of just how much a month of poor spending habits can cost. The key to understanding how to save and spend wisely is by understanding where you are in life and developing smart money habits to get you from where you are now to where you want to be in your future. Going from living at home with your parents to living on your own has its own challenges. For the most part, you’re now responsible for feeding, clothing, and taking care of yourself. College students often have money from allowances from their parents, part-time jobs, or savings from a previous job. Understanding that money is finite and you can’t spend carelessly is vital.

Related: 5 Tips to Help College Students Manage Their Finances                        

Students should develop constant and consistent habits that allow them to successfully budget their money, ensuring their spending habits align with their current financial situation and their savings allow for continued financial stability and growth. 

Learn more about financial planning from Ruffin Consulting Services, or check out the tag “finances” to get more advice from us!

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About Ebony Ruffin

Ebony Ruffin is the founder and managing member of Ruffin Consulting Services, a business consulting firm specializing in life insurance solutions for families and businesses. Her expertise in money management has allowed her to change the lives of so many. She seeks to understand people’s money habits, money language, lifestyle, and access to money to provide actionable tools and tips to create better money habits. Ebony graduated from Auburn University with a BBA in Finance and from Mercer University with an MBA in International Business.


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