It’s a big step, stepping onto campus for the first time this fall. There is lots to do and lots to learn. One important lesson to learn is how to use your money—what little you may have—wisely!
Here is some advice from College Basics:
Budget – Find out exactly what you will have for money for your semester or for your year. Learn what you have coming from financial aid as well as what your parents are willing to pay for. Count up our own savings and include any wages you may be earning. Now divide that amount by the number of months your income will cover (one semester or two), and you will know what you have to spend month by month. Try not to go over your budget.
Save – Start to condition yourself to save for life now. Put away $5 or $10 a month. This habit is one you can learn now that will hold you in good stead for the rest of your life. If you do not use all the monies that your financial aid package offers you and you get a refund, do not spend it. Bank it for your next school year or semester and earn interest on it. Finally, look for ways to have fun without spending money. Some of the best times you will have at college will be watching movies with friends, going to campus games, or even having a card-a-thon in your dorm.
Take advantage of discounts – You are a student now, in a big way, and you are entitled to discounts. One thing to do is purchase a Student Advantage Card. It costs about $20, but with it you can save at stores like Target and Footlocker throughout the year. There are other discounts out there for you too. Colleges offer discounts in their stores, and with your student ID card often you can get discounts in your college community on food and other supplies or necessities. Just ask!
Protect your identifying information – Dorms are filled with all kinds of traffic, and it isn’t only dorm residents. Buy a shredder and shred anything that has your important information on it. Also keep your cards and personal information in a safe, inaccessible place.
Buy text books wisely – Don’t just go to the college bookstore and buy. First, check out your class book lists online for better buys. Also, consider buying used. When you’re done with your books, sell them back to the book store or offer them used online.
Keep checking for scholarships – Start by keeping up your grades. Keep track of dates for reapplying for scholarships you already have but last for only one school year. They do not automatically renew and you don’t want to lose what you have in your pocket now. Also, check in with your college advisor for lists and suggestions of other scholarships that might become available or that you haven’t already applied for.
Money 101 is perhaps the most important class you will ever take. Learn to use your money well now, and it will help you make money in your future.