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Five Financial Tips for New College Students

By on November 13, 2015
College freshman often do not have large sums of money. There are ways to be smart about the money that they do have. Being financially smart can be critical to future financial health.Student debt

Perhaps the biggest expense will be college itself. While most cannot afford to pay for college out of pocket, borrowing the least amount of money possible is the ideal. Make sure to use the money borrowed for legitimate college expenses and, if there is extra, put it right back into loan payments. Additionally, you should try to get a part-time job to pay for some of the college expenses when possible, so that you will not need to borrow as much. Paying back the loans after graduation will be much easier if you borrow less in the first place.

Credit cards

Credit cards are offered all over college campuses. Sometimes students are even lured into signing up for a card with free “stuff” like t-shirts, candy, or a coupon for a free pizza. While these free items may sound good on the spur of the moment, the credit cards are usually not the best options.

If you decide to get a credit card, do the research first. Find a card with little or no fees, low annual percentage rates, and possibly even rewards that will pay you a small percentage of your spending. Then, only use credit cards on planned purchases, making sure that you can pay off the balances at the end of each month.

Save now

While it may not be easy for a student to save money, even putting a small amount aside each month can help. Saving early can help the new students accumulate large sum and also will be helpful during emergencies.

Make a budget

You should sit down and make a realistic budget before spending gets out of hand, which it can easily do. Note the amount of money you bring in from parents, jobs, or other sources. Then realistically divide the amount into portions that can be spent on the items you need to purchase each month. It does not need to be too specific, but categories like entertainment, school expenses, and car expenses might be possible categories. And, then, do not spend more than the given amount in any category. The categories and amounts can be re-evaluated each month as necessary.

Watch spending

If you can manage to minimize spending on some items, you may find that you have more for fun or to save. For example, never buy new textbooks at the school bookstore unless it is the only option. Books can often be purchased used or online, often at discounted prices. Books can also be rented online at sites like www.chegg.com or even www.amazon.com.

Additionally, you can save money on meals. If you have a meal plan, do not just ignore it and spend money on other food, such as at a restaurant, because you didn’t feel like what they were serving at the school cafeteria. You will also find that leaving money at home and only bringing what you need or have budgeted for a particular event, may be beneficial and, may stop you from overspending. Finally, avoid extra fees such as parking fines or library fines when they can be avoided expenditures.

College is a whole new experience for most freshman and knowing where you can go wrong may help you stay on the right track.

Author: Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, a leading supplier of personal and business checks.

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