College Finances: How to be a Money Savvy Student

Saving-MoneyAs you prepare to enter college, you are probably anticipating a life of more independence and freedom. However, don’t forget that with independence come more responsibilities, particularly those of the financial nature. According to a Sallie Mae study, 84% of high school students admitted to needing more financial management education. Break the mold by starting college on a path to financial efficiency.

Create a budget & stay organized.

Create a monthly budget based on your spending habits; your “needs” should come first. If you don’t already have one, you will need to set up a checking account in college. Your checking account, bills, financial aid, and anything else relating to dollar signs should be reviewed regularly and stored in a safe, accessible place. There are also many free personal finance apps, such as Mint and EasyMoney, that can help manage and track your spending.

Understand financial aid.

Whether your college tuition is funded by student loans, scholarships, or family, it’s important to understand where the money is coming from, how much of it there is, and any stipulations that come along with it. Always be aware of deadlines for payments and financial aid applications.

Be careful about credit card offers.

If you decide to get a credit card, read the fine print and aim to pay off the full balance at the end of every month. Interest rates can skyrocket and leave you climbing out of debt. Paying off your balance at the end of every month takes self-control, but it will be worth it come graduation when your credit score is in top shape!

Reward yourself.

Saving is hard work, so you deserve to treat yourself for the discipline it takes to reach your goals. You might want to have a nice dinner out with friends, upgrade to a new electronic, or go on a small shopping spree. Don’t go too crazy though, otherwise you’ll be right back where you started.

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