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It may feel overwhelming to manage your money when you are a student and living on your own, since your college days are bound to be hectic- filled with classes, group projects, exams and assignment deadlines. Of course, taking care of finances is a huge responsibility and is one of the first steps towards adulthood. But if you plan ahead, this task won’t seem like an added burden. For instance, you can save a lot of money if you cook at home often-which means you won’t eat out or order food online, every time you feel hungry. Here are seven great tips which will help you handle your finances like a pro:

1. Make a budget: Firstly, start out by making a budgetary plan which is realistic. You can list down your minimum income for the year which would include sources such as your savings, wages (if you are working part-time) and allowances, and later jot down estimated expenditure for the month. It will also help you avoid making purchases you cannot afford at this point.

2. Start saving: Start depositing a set amount of money into your “emergency fund account” or a savings account. Before you pay any bill, make sure that you have already put a portion of your income in a separate account, which you access only when there’s a real emergency or unanticipated expense in the future. Even better, automate your savings (banks will have a link on their website to set this up)

3. Rent or reuse: You can save a lot of money by renting out or buying used electronics from a trusted dealer, as opposed to purchasing a new model of a camera, smart phone or computer. Be smart when you’re buying digital tools you’ll need on campus, since there is absolutely no resale value for these gadgets.

4. Play smart: Find out about student discounts from retailers who sell laptops or printers. Look for deals during non-holiday seasons, when such products tend to be less expensive (unless there are some great online deals during festivals). You can even rent or purchase used textbooks and sell your old ones.

5.  Avoid plastic money: The best way to monitor overspending is to try and avoid using credit/debit cards while shopping and use cash instead. It’s natural to be a little cautious when you spend physical money as opposed to swiping a card and that way, you can avoid spending on things which is not an absolute essential. Also, do not forget to pay your bills on time to avoid late fees and penalties. It’s ideal to set a reminder on your phone to avoid missing the due date for any payment.

6.  Use college amenities: You can save on your gym membership fees, if you choose to make use of the facilities available in your campus. Since most of these amenities would be covered under your tuition fees, why not take full advantage of these benefits?

7.   Safeguard your data: Unfortunately, college students are at the highest risk of identity theft. As cliché as this may sound, do NOT share your bank account details, PIN number or credit card information with anyone and ensure that your personal documents are not lying around. Make it a habit to check your bank and credit accounts regularly and report any suspicious activity immediately.