Money management tips for college students
Report: 7 of 10 college graduates have loan debt average of $29K
Going to college is an exciting time for students, and while there are many decisions incoming freshmen must make, including class schedules, textbooks and dorm decorations, some of the most vital decisions are related to money management.
According to the Project on Student Debt, seven in 10 seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2014 had student loan debt with an average of $28,950 per borrower.
Here are some money management tips to relieve the financial burden throughout college and not end up with a massive debt:
Create a budget
Students are advised to separate wants from needs and list monthly income sources including scholarships and loans.
Use money for rent, bills, gas and groceries first then look ahead to upcoming expenses that include going out with friends and enjoying the college experience.
It's not easy to identify what those needs and wants are early in college, but once a student does, they should try to manage their budget and track expenses using an online finance management tool, which helps create and stick to a budget.
Set up a checking account and checking balances
Many banks offer college students free checking and saving accounts, which allows students to avoid fees on withdrawals or fund transfers.
Try to find a bank with convenient ATMs near campus to eliminate extra ATM charges. Also check your balance regularly on your PC or mobile device.
It’s also important to note that college students are easy prey for identity thieves. Avoid checking a bank balance with a public computer and log out of your account every time.
Credit card management
College is a good time to start building credit, but it’s easy for many students to accumulate a large amount of debt while in school.
If a student gets a credit card, it’s important for them to research interest rates and rewards and also understand how to build credit.
That includes paying bills on time every month to avoid wasting money on late fees. If your bank offers online bill pay or automatic withdrawals for bills, sign up to save time.
Save money on textbooks
Textbooks are a major college expense with some costing hundreds of dollars.
Students can bypass the cost for some books by buying a Kindle or iPad and downloading textbooks. They can also look for used books at a local bookstore.
Hold off buying a textbook until you have a syllabus and make sure you will not drop the class. Some online services let students print or research individual chapters.
Eating on a budget and using a student discount
Before you buy something in or around campus, find out if there’s a student discount for it. You can save money on several things including food, movie tickets and even electronics.
Colleges also have regular social events and entertainment, which often come with free food. If you buy a meal plan, start with a smaller one to figure out how many times you will use it throughout the semester.
Save money on gas by walking or biking around campus
Most campuses are pedestrian friendly. You can walk, bike or even take school shuttles to where you need to go.
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