Here are 10 things you should know when starting college and some tips on how to achieve them.
- Keep Track of Spending – If you haven’t already, create a monthly budget and record your expenses. Utilize apps to keep track of spending. Make a habit of tracking your expenses.
- Learn to Say No – Set limits on dining out and weekend entertainment. Be honest with yourself about the difference between your wants versus needs. Look for inexpensive alternatives for wants and always consult your budget before making decisions.
- Minimize Student Loan Debt – Borrow just what you need and not treat your loan limits as targets. If you receive a refund check choose to spend it only on necessity. Calculate your future loan payments (loan calculators are available at studentaid.gov) and compare them to typical salaries in your field. If you can pay interest on your unsubsidized or private loans.
- Pay Bills on Time – Set up automatic payments on monthly bills and add due dates to your calendar so you know when the amount will be deducted from your account. Sign up for bill reminders and request notifications for due date changes that may occur.
- Take Advantage of Money Saving Opportunities – Utilize campus resources and student discounts. Buy basic items from the dollar store. Buy used or rent textbooks. Sign up for coupon alerts. Automate savings with an app like Acorns. Become a Community Assistant.
- Protect Personal Information – Fully research organizations requesting personal data for scholarships before submitting. Monitor financial accounts and credit reports (due to the pandemic you can receive free credit reports weekly through April 2021). Use a shredder on paperwork you don’t need that has your personal information on it. Sign up for account alerts. Limit transactions on public WiFi and be cautious on social media.
- Don’t Misuse Credit Cards – Determine if a credit card is a good option and set limits on credit card purchases. Do not charge items you cannot afford. Know important information about your card like the APR, finance charges and fees before applying. Pay more than the minimum each month. Ideally try to pay the full balance each month.