College and universities across the country are back in session for the fall semester. That means freshman who were just graduating from high school four months ago are getting their first taste of life outside their home by meeting new people, taking different classes, and getting used to dorm food. Often we tend to want just to sit back and relax and not have to think about our finances, but most students don’t have that luxury. So here are five financial tips for college students:
Student Loans can cripple your financial future
The average student will graduate with over $25,000 in student loan debt. Please don’t let this be you. Plan your course schedule ahead of time so you are not in school longer than you have to be. Look for scholarships, earn money, and don’t take out student loans for things other than tuition, like cars or everyday living expenses. Yes, I truly believe that you can graduate from school debt free, but even if it is too late, make taking out loans a last resort and keep it to a minimum.
Credit cards can be very dangerous to your financial health
Credit cards in themselves are not evil, but what most college student do with them is what is the bad news. Don’t buy into the lie that you need a credit score to prosper and please don’t sign up for a credit card simply to get a free t-shirt or pizza. Instead just say no thanks, pay for things with cash, and that way you won’t have to worry about still paying for textbooks from the fall semester of your sophomore year or that spring break you took as a junior, when you’re in your 30’s
Work won’t hurt you
I did it, people before you did it, and even your parents probably did it. A little work has never hurt anybody and it is not a crime to work while in college. Yes, you are busy, but you still have time to do the fun things in college in addition to working a few nights a week. Earning money while in school will keep you away from debt and will also teach you responsibility, good time management, in addition to being a great resume builder.
Start to think of your career path
No, you don’t have to know what you want to do with your life at 18, but you also don’t want to spend the next seven years “finding yourself” while in school either. College is expensive, so don’t waste your time enjoying the college experience without also developing what you are going to do after you are out of college. Remember, you don’t have to be in college to have fun. You can party, drink, play video games, and sleep in until 11 without paying a university to do so.
Financial decisions today have an impact on your tomorrow
What happens in your 20’s financially doesn’t stay in your 20’s. Taking out student loans and worrying about them later might seem like the easy thing today, but it won’t be easy when you are making the payments well into your 30’s and 40’s. Of course you won’t be rich coming out of school, but you also don’t want to be burdened with thousands of dollars of debt either.
For those of you who are in college, enjoy it. It is a great time in your life, but don’t delay making tough decisions that can impact your future finances and harm you down the road.
What are your financial tips for college students, either seniors or freshman? Please leave your tips below in the comment section.