BY JANE HURST
This fall, you will understand all too well what people mean when they use the term, “starving college student.” By the time you pay for tuition, books, accommodations, etc., there probably won’t be a whole lot of money left over. This is likely going to be your first time taking care of your own finances, and you will have a lot to learn about budgeting your money so you don’t become one of those starving students. Today, we are going to look at some of the best financial literacy tips for college freshmen that will help keep you in the black.
- Find the Right Bank – Even if you already have a bank account, it is still a good idea to look into other banks that may offer better services for students. For instance, you need to make sure the bank has a branch near your school. Look for a bank that offers low ATM fees, low minimum daily balance requirements, online bill payments, etc.
- Set Up a Budget – As soon as you know what your expenses and finances are going to be, you need to set up a working budget, and make sure that you stick to it as closely as possible. Sure, there are going to be unexpected expenses once in a while, but if you have a good budget, you should have enough money to cover those expenses without putting yourself in a financial hole.
- Start Saving Money – Just because you don’t have a lot of money, doesn’t mean that you can’t start saving for a rainy day. You may not have much, but every little bit counts. Instead of buying that extra latte, put the money into your savings account. Over time, the small amounts are going to add up, and you will have some cash available when you really need it. Even if you are only able to put away $10 each week, at the end of a year, you will have $520.
- Be Responsible With Credit – There is no time like the present to learn how to handle credit cards. Establishing your credit now is going to go a long way toward helping you in the future, provided you keep up with your monthly payments and don’t go crazy with charges. The best credit cards have a decent interest rate, a low annual fee and other rewards. Don’t take the first card offered, because there may be a better offer from the next one.
- Save on Transportation – Chances are you really don’t need a car to get around. Most of the things you need are going to be on or near your campus, often within walking distance. Instead of spending money on gas, insurance, maintenance, etc., try other transportation options, including ride-sharing, walking, cycling and public transportation.
- Be Careful With Student Loans – It can be very tempting to take out more student loans than you actually need to cover all your expenses, because that extra money can come in really handy. The problem is, you have to pay it back at some point. Why put a greater burden on yourself than necessary? You are already going to owe money when you graduate, so it is best to keep it to the absolute minimum.
- Earn Money – These days, there are other options available for part-time work besides fast food places. You can find plenty of jobs that will work with your schedule, or you can make your own gig. Start tutoring other students for extra cash. Find online jobs that let you work on a flexible schedule, and work from anywhere. Don’t forget to look into on-campus jobs that fit in with your class schedule.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter.