Financial Advice for College Students

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If you are on the verge of graduating from college or you have recently graduated, congratulations! For many young adults, college graduation marks a major transition into adulthood and the world of post-graduate employment. It also guides in a new phase of personal finance. Though it is not true that every decision you make in your twenties will have lasting effects on the course of your adult life, there are some that have bigger implications than others. Many of the decisions you make will center on your finances.

10 Essential Financial Tips for New College Grads

1. Know Your Financial Aid Options

Most students need some kind of financial aid to help pay for their education. The key is in making the most of the options available to you.

In addition to university-specific scholarships, research whether you qualify for other funding thanks to hobbies you pursue, the major you’re going into, and organizations you and your parents belong to. There are scholarships and grants out there for more than you might realize, and the more you can avoid borrowing to fund your education, the better.

2. Get a Part-Time Job

While for most students, weekends are for sleep and pizza, you are up and ready early morning for work. Wait for the month to end and see the tables turn!

If your college permits, try and secure a job working on-campus and then do whatever it takes to keep that job throughout college. Having a job for the 3-4 years of university will keep money coming in and reflect fabulously on your resume.

3. Keep a Track of all your Expenses

It is very important for any person to know where the money is coming from and where it is going. Keeping a track of your expenses will help you identify your over-spend and wasteful spend areas. Once you identify your over-spend and wasteful spend areas been identified you should try reducing them. You may maintain an expenses sheet on Pen and Paper or an Excel sheet. If you have a smart phone you can download management apps that help you to track your expenses.  

4. Avail Student Discount

Being a student can get you money off almost anything, from a new clothing purchase to a trip to the movies. Check for special discounts on every item you wish to purchase. If you do not see any advertisement around for it, be cheeky and ask for its availability. This could really make a difference in the amount you end up saving towards the end of the month.

5. Keep a Track of Money Lent/Borrowed

Lending/Borrowing is very common among students. It happens that a student has borrowed money from a friend and when the friend asks back we end up not have any to pay back which will affect the smooth relationship between two.

So keeping a track on the money lent/borrowed will help you a lot. This also tracks your liability and keeps adequate provision to pay back.

6. Rent Books

Instead of buying course books from stores, try these effective methods:

Rent: Many companies offer textbook rentals now, which allow students to use books at a low cost and return them at the end of the semester. Look for rentals available for both print and e-books.

Take used books: The best advantage of being a regular college student is having a student-library at your disposal. Borrow books from the library or buy low-cost used copies before buying new ones. If your library doesn’t allow that, check them out for a 2-3 hour span when you are studying.

Sell back: Keep your books as neat as possible and sell them back to your college bookstore at the end of the term. If your college won’t take them, try a local bookstore.

7. Establish Credit

It is a good idea to establish a credit history. The easiest way to do this is through owning a credit card.  But a credit card puts you at risk of potentially overspending. How can you work-around this?

Apply for a credit card. When it arrives in the mail, cut it up immediately but keep the underlying account open.

Make a small, recurring monthly purchase, like your Netflix/Amazon subscription, with the account number. Set up auto-pay so that you will never be late on a payment. You are now building a credit history, without putting yourself at undue risk.

8. Alternative Transportation

Instead of driving to college and spending money on petrol and parking tickets, how about you try the local metro instead? With the comfort of direct metro lines and air-conditioning at a much cheaper rate, this seems like a more viable option.

If a transportation system doesn’t exist or isn’t safe or reliable, try to work out class schedules with friends and carpool. If you’re close enough, walk to class, get some much-needed exercise.

9. Create Savings Goals

You have a lot of financial goals. You will be faced with big purchases in the near future, if you haven’t been already. You’ll decide whether or not to buy a house or car, among other things.

Think about your future now and create goals to work toward. If you think you’ll be purchasing a home in the next few years, create a down payment fund. If you want be purchase a car start saving for that. Try to save as much cash as you can for those big purchases.

10. Credit Freezes

Child identity theft is a problem, and the three big credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have grudgingly begun to allow people under 18 to freeze their credit files. When a file is frozen, creditors generally won’t open a new account because they can’t check the applicant’s credit. That should stop thieves who are trying to impersonate your child.

A credit freeze isn’t supposed to prevent you from adding your child as an authorized user on your credit card. But just to be safe, it’s probably best to wait to set one until after you have an authorized user card in hand.