College Isn’t Cheap

3 apps to help students budget in college.

GUEST COLUMN | by Pamela Rossow

CREDIT mintMost college students know that attending college isn’t cheap. Besides the price of college tuition, there are other costs associated with earning a degree. These expenses can quickly add up and translate into added debt if a college budget isn’t created and followed. What apps could help college students save money and be responsible with their college finances? Here are three apps you could try.

Mint. As a personal finance app, Mint rates well. A bonus? It is free and available for download from the iTunes store. So what does it do? Mint uses all kinds of cool graphs to help you track your spending and savings. It also provides you with information that may show you where your money has gone and financial areas that need attention. Along with the same type of security and 128-bit encryption that banks use, Mint will send you alerts via text or email if suspicious activity occurs in any of our accounts. Because you aren’t able to transfer or move funds using Mint, no one else is able to either. It is easily to understand because the language is not “bankese.” It has hundreds of budget categories like Entertainment, Gas and Fuel, Coffee, and Groceries that you can compare expenses from week to week or month to month.

ABUKAI Expenses. Talk about an app that, for only $10 per month, can accomplish amazing technological feats. If you reach the end of the month only to wonder where the money went that was earmarked for much needed school supplies, ABUKAI is here to help. ABUKAI Expenses uses technology that allows you to take pictures of your receipts, click on an icon, and receive your own, personal expense report. Your images are emailed to you in a PDF and your expenses are sent in an Excel spreadsheet. If you want to nip any unnecessary spending in the bud and like a shock approach to curb spending, try this app. It’s hard to ignore all of those trips to Starbucks and retail stores when the receipts are organized neatly in an easy way to understand—in your face.

Groupon. College students on budgets like to eat out occasionally, right? They also enjoy getting haircuts, catching a movie, and hanging out with friends at local hotspots. Groupon is like an online coupon site with no coupons to print and every type of deal you can imagine offered in hundreds of places across the world. Whether you want to go on a fun spring break trip or try parasailing at discounted prices, you sign up for free at Groupon.com and start receiving daily deals in your inbox. Then you search for spring break or parasailing specials. It couldn’t be simpler. If you see a deal you want to purchase, you click “Buy.” You know how many days you have until the deal expires and exactly how much you saved by purchasing the deal on Groupon. If you refer a friend and she makes her first purchase, you receive $10 in Groupon bucks—awesome!

Using apps and technology in college may assist you in making your life a little easier. In addition to being better organized, you might find that you have more time to hit the books or just enjoy a little R and R.

Pamela Rossow is a freelance writer who works with higher education clients such as eLearners. She is a native South Floridian who enjoys photography, literature, and hockey. You can follow her on Google+.

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