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Financial Advice for the New College Freshman

Oct 14, 2018

All across this wonderful country, college campuses have welcomed a new class of freshman. These students arrived with a lot of things, but money literacy was probably not one of them.

If I could devote a little time with these awesome students, this is what I would try to squeeze into their heads and then pray that it gets in their hearts:

A budget plan is your friend


That shows you 1) have a written projection for how you are planning to allocate your hard earned cash 2) you use that written strategy like you would a road map, referring to it often, and 3) you use a site like Mint.com or a pencil and paper to record how you spend every nickel.

Sallie Mae has a monthly spending plan worksheet you can print out to help you approximate your costs and keep costs in control. Do not try to do this keeping-track matter in your head. You are amazing, however don't push it!

Get a totally free checking account


It's not easy nowadays to get free checking accounts with no strings attached-- no monthly service charge, no minimum balance requirement and no minimum deposit. But lots of banks like U.S. Bank offer free student accounts that match these criteria.




Explore banking options in the city where you will be going to school, or find out if the bank or credit union that your parents currently use offers free college student accounts and has a branch near the university.

Credit card debt


Do not be ridiculous. Credit card personal debt-- a balance owing that you roll over from one month to the next, paying just the minimum required plus interest-- has the capacity to sink your ship. Think of it like cancer. In the beginning it's simply a small thing that's not that huge of a deal. But then it begins to increase, and if it's not dealt with promptly, it will do horrible things in your future.

Deal with cash


Your age group has been somewhat brainwashed to think that plastic is the only safe method to pay for things. That may be true if you purchase things online, but in general it is just not correct. I do not have the time or space to enter into a long commentary on the subject.

Simply believe me when I advise you that using cash-- currency, greenbacks, dollars, coins-- will simplify your life and keep you from spending too much.

Eat your food plan


If you or your parents have paid for the school meal plan, you need to know how many dinners are covered and after that do something remarkable: essentially eat those meals. If you're enjoying pizza in your dormitory or driving through Burger King as a substitute, you're just tossing away hard earned cash. It might feel cool to spend your money like that now, but you will regret it later on.

Don't end up being a Starbucks regular


I want to say not ever, but I'll compromise a bit on this one. Honestly, the coffee at Starbucks or Coffee Bean or any other fashionable coffee house is so high priced it almost makes me choke.

Allow your grandparents and others understand just how much you enjoy Starbucks gift cards. They are anxious to find out what they can send to you while you're away. Then use the gift cards instead of your money.

Imagine it: If you shell out $3 a day at Starbucks, that's $90 a month. On coffee. Multiply by nine to see just how much you'll purchase in an academic year ($ 810). You don't want to spend your cash that way. Buy an economical coffee machine as an alternative, and make it on your own in your apartment.

Buy used course books


The expense of brand-new books is going to be so shocking it will make you want to chew your hair. Anyone can cut that cost in half at least by purchasing used books on the internet or maybe renting them.

Keep searching


Students who could not secure a scholarship for the fall term shouldn't give up. Many scholarships have spring deadlines, so continue your search throughout this academic year and next year. Simply keep applying.

Take these fundamental money concepts and apply them to your daily life starting now. You will not ever regret it.


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