Guest Post Author Bio: This is a blog swap post organized from LaTisha at Financial Success for Young Adults where she blogs about smart money management for college students and recent grads.
College freshman have a lot to worry about. You have to decide on a major, figure out what classes to take, make sure you choose the right professors and so on and so on. There is also the money concern. For the first time in your life you are away from your parents and for most college students, you are also beginning to support yourself. Some parents will still give their kid an allowance once they go to college but let’s be real, it’s never enough. There are plenty of money tips for college freshman but I just have three: watch your pennies, start a budget and don’t open a line of credit.
Credit Cards for College Students
Ok, maybe I should adjust that a little. It is really important to build your credit and a large part of your credit history is dependent on the average age of accounts. So how about open a line of credit, but don’t use it. Credit is pretty addictive. If you are just starting college and this is your first opportunity to be responsible with money, you may realize that the freedom goes to your head a little. In my case, it went to my head a lot.
Spend a Little, Spend a Lot
I opened my first credit card as a college freshman and I was rewarded with a free t-shirt. Then I decided to spend a little on the card and pay it off each month. Great plan, huh? Except for the fact that I didn’t have much in savings. My first emergency caused me to go over budget, even though I didn’t have one at the time, and spend my entire paycheck and spend some on my credit card. Now I had a balance and interest growing and paying the monthly payments wasn’t so bad. I realized that I could keep up with the payments.
Start a Budget
Even though my number one money tip for college students would be to build credit smartly, my next tip would be build a budget. A college student can budget pretty easily with free budgeting software such as what is available at Mint or even with just an Excel spreadsheet. The key point is just that you create a budget.
Watch Your Pennies
Be stingy. Don’t forget to get your change back from the vending machine. And make sure you count what the cashier gives you back. Those pennies, nickels and dimes add up, you should get into the habit of watching your dollars. You could be shortchanged for a small amount that you don’t really care about, but if you do not start paying more attention, you also will not realize when you are missing a large chunk of change or when there is an accounting error on your bill.
You will learn more about money as you begin to build a relationship with it and learn to manage it properly.
Do you have a money tip for college freshman?