College Money Matters

College is often the first time that young people are responsible for managing their own finances. Read on to learn how to be smart with your money and how to develop good financial habits that will last a lifetime.

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It is not uncommon for students to live beyond their means. Eating out too often, spending too much on video games, or dating too frequently all carry costs that can accumulate quickly. Taking the time to establish a budget can alleviate money problems and help develop good, lifelong money management skills. While establishing a budget may seem fairly easy, sticking to it is another story.


Students, particularly those living in dorms without full kitchens, are often tempted to go out with friends each night rather than cook at home. Spending too much money on burgers and fries at the beginning of the month, however, may mean lonely macaroni and cheese or ramen dinners near the month's end. This can be avoided, however, if you plan ahead. Stock up on affordable convenience items to enjoy at home, such as pasta or eggs. If you live with roommates, establish a shopping and cooking rotation so that expenses are evenly extended. This will help make room in your budget to go out with friends every Friday night and have something to look forward to.

Credit Cards

College students are bombarded with tempting offers from credit card companies. While it can be useful to have a credit card for emergencies, using it for unnecessary items like CD's or video games can be hazardous. Debt can accumulate quickly and you can find yourself in over your head before you realize it. Always review the terms of a credit card before accepting it, and then only use it sparingly. A good rule of thumb is to not charge anything to your credit card that you cannot pay off in full at the end of the month.

Money matters are a stressful part of the college experience. You can help prevent and alleviate such stress, however, by entering school prepared to handle your own finances. Establishing a budget, distributing funds evenly from one week to the next, and using credit cards wisely are all effective methods of establishing a strong financial foundation.

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