John Hicks | Posted on Jul 01, 2016
As college freshmen head to campus in August to begin their first semester, money management should be on their personal syllabus. It's important for college students to take control of their financial future by saving wherever and whenever they can. Students should treat personal finance like a second major and avoid unnecessary expenses now to reduce the financial burden when they graduate.
Below are ten money-saving tips to help new college students get an early start on securing their financial future.
- Create a budget. You're an adult now and are responsible for managing your own finances. The first step is to create a realistic budget or plan and then stick to it.
- Watch spending. Keep receipts and track spending in a notebook or create an Excel spreadsheet. Pace spending and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses, like eating out or shopping, so that your money can last throughout the semester.
- Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Use it, but don't abuse it. How you handle your credit in college could affect you well after graduation. Shop around for a credit card that best suits your needs with a low credit limit.
- Take advantage of your bank's resources. Most banks offer online, mobile and text banking tools to manage your account night and day. Use these tools to check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, and monitor transaction history. Report transactions that you don't recognize as your own to your bank immediately.
- Seek financial assistance. There's a host of scholarship money and financial aid available to students --- you just have to seek out the best funding options and take the time to apply. You should also consult your bank to determine if they offer any college financing options such as a low interest student loan or line of credit.
- Buy used. Consider buying used books or ordering them online. Buying books can become expensive, and often used books are in just as good condition as new ones. Renting books is another popular option with today's students to save money.
- Entertain on a budget. Limit your "hanging out" fund. There are lots of fun activities to keep you busy in college and many are free for students. Get the most from your Student ID privileges.
- Use only your bank's ATMs. Avoid fees by using ATMs owned by or affiliated with your bank. If you must use an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank, take out larger withdrawals to avoid having to go back multiple times.
- Expect the unexpected. Things happen, and it's important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or you have to buy an unexpected ticket home. You should start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount.
- Ask. This is a learning experience, so if you need help, just ask. Your parents or your bank are a good place to start.
With these ten money-saving tips in hand, college freshmen will be well on their way to a successful first semester and college career!