Financial Tips for College Students
This month, The Money Writers is having its second group writing project. The topic this time is about financial tips for college students, most of them just began their new school year after the long summer break. This is a relatively new area for me, not the financial tips part, but the college part because I didn’t exactly have a college life here in the states. My undergrad years were spent in a college in the northwest China. As you can imagine how much different that experience can be from the college life here nowadays. Back then I didn’t have to pay tuition because it was covered by the government and my parents provided everything else. So basically, the last thing I needed to worry about was money and, therefore, I didn’t develop much financial common sense through my college life, except knowing that money didn’t come easily (maybe that was just enough ).
Though I didn’t went to a college here, I did, however, spent four years in the States to get my graduate degree and experienced a college life, a slightly different one. I still remember the day when I opened my bank account and had my first check book. When I got my first ever credit card, I was really excited. Since then, credit cards have changed the way I approach money and become an indispensable part of my financial life. If there are any financial tips I can offer to college students, the first two come into my mind are:
Earn some money and save some
During the time when I taught at a university, I noticed that lots of my students, while taking five or six courses a semester, worked after classes. Whether you pay your education yourself through a college loan, or, like me, have your parents paid it for you, chances are you may need to work a little bit, on or off campus, to earn some spare cash. It’s always good to have money in your wallet for things you want to do and stuff you want to have. Just don’t spend all the money you earned. So what can you do with your loose changes after you paid all your bills? One of the options is opening an IRA account. You don’t have to make a lot of money to have your own retirement account. As long as you have earned income, you are eligible for an IRA account. An IRA account not only can lower your tax (most likely you will be eligible for making deductible contribution), but also can help you develop the kind of financial discipline you will need after finishing the school.
Get a credit card and use it wisely
You know how important credit worthiness is these days. Without a good credit history, you later will find out it’s going to be difficult to rent an apartment, get a car loan, or sometimes even get the job you want (yes, there are employers check credit history). From my experience, one of the best ways to establish credit history is getting a credit card and use it wisely. Getting a card isn’t really difficult. There are tons of cards designed specially for college students from major issuers such as Citibank, Chase, and American Express. What’s difficult is being responsible with the card. What I mean being responsible is charge your card with care and pay your bill in full every month. Using credit cards can always give people a false sense of ease because there seems to be no money involved, but at the end of the day, you will have to pay the credit card bills. Credit card can be your friend. It can also ruin you if you are not careful with it. The bottom line is, don’t spend more than you earn.
Anything else? Of course, you can always live a frugal college life, as suggested by Jason at Frugal Dad. Meanwhile, check out what other Money Writers are saying:
- College Student Money Guide: Financial Tips for Student Success at Money Smart Life
- College Student Finance Tips at Brip Blap
- How Much Do You Need to Save for College at The Digerati Life
- Going Back to School: Here are Some Tips That Helped Me at The Lazy Man and Money
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