This article was written by our marketing intern, Landon Campbell. At the time of publishing, he had just finished his first year of college. Here, he draws upon his own first-year experiences to share his tips on how to manage money in college.
Leaving home to go to college for the first time is an adventure in independence. But often, students lose sight of their true objective for being in school – getting an education. This lack of focus can quickly lead to a budgeting crisis. Start your first year of college off right with these MoneyWise tips.
Keep your eye on the prize
Students who keep their education objectives top of mind are better able to budget their money. Before spending, ask yourself if the item is something you need to fulfill your educational commitments or something you want for enjoyment. Ask yourself; are you in school to study or to eat at the most important restaurants? Are you in school to purchase books for class or new fashionable clothes? If you remind yourself that you are in college to become fluent in an area of interest and translate that to a successful post-graduate experience, you’ll have a better chance of controlling your spending habits.
Credit card smarts
Many students open their first credit card while in college. This is a good time to do so because, if managed correctly, a credit card can set you on the path to establishing good credit before you graduate. Before choosing a credit card, do your research and don’t choose just any card. Make sure you understand the interest rate and fees involved. Once you have one, use it sparingly and develop a credit card spending strategy that you can live by. For example, only spend what you can pay off within 30 days and try to only use credit only for emergencies. If you find yourself using credit for daily expenses such as food or rent, you will want to re-evaluate your budget so you don’t graduate with excessive debt.
Work for fun
If you find you don’t have enough money to cover your educational needs and some of those luxuries that make college fun, a part time job will give you extra pocket change. Additionally, a job can provide those added skills that make you more marketable to future employers once you graduate. Check with your counselors to see if there are part time jobs on campus or nearby that work with your schedule.
College is expensive and many students are graduating with student loan debt. Don’t add to that debt by overspending. See if you can hold off on excessive spending until you have finished school and are established in your career. If you do have a little extra money, put it towards paying off your student loans early or save it to use after graduation. College is the perfect opportunity to start good money management habits that will overflow into your future.