8 Money Tips Every College Freshman Should Know

With Labor Day behind us, most colleges are underway with the fall semester. The American Bankers Association encourages college students to get an early start on securing their financial future. Check out these eight tips on how to avoid expenses now and reduce financial burden upon graduation.

  • Create a budget.  You’re an adult now and are responsible for managing your own finances. The first step is to create a realistic budget or plan and stick to it.
  • Watch spending. Keep receipts and track spending in a notebook or a mobile app.  Pace spending and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses like eating out or shopping so that your money can last throughout the semester.
  • Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit.  Use it, but don’t abuse it.  How you handle your credit in college could affect you well after graduation.  Shop around for a card that best suits your needs.
  • Lookout for money. There’s a lot of money available for students — you just have to look for it. Apply for scholarships, and look for student discounts or other deals. Many national retailers offer significant discounts for those with a valid student ID.
  • Buy used.  Consider buying used books or ordering them online.  Buying books can become expensive and often used books are in just as good of shape as new ones.  Dedicate some time and research to see what deals you can find.
  • Entertain on a budget. Limit your “hanging out” fund.  There are lots of fun activities to keep you busy in college and many are free for students. Use your meal plan or sample new recipes instead of eating out. If you do go out, take advantage of special offers that occur during the week, like discount movie ticket days or weekly restaurant specials.
  • Expect the unexpected.  Things happen, and it’s important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or you have to buy an unexpected ticket home.  You should start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount.
  • Ask. This is a learning experience, so if you need help, ask.  Your parents or your bank are a good place to start, and remember—the sooner the better.

For more tips and resources on a variety of personal finance topics such as mortgages, credit cards, protecting your identity and saving for college, visit aba.com/Consumers.

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