College Freshmen, Avoid These 15 Financial Errors

Posted September 12, 2013 by
College student holding money and books, upset by tuition cost and debt

College student holding money and books, upset by tuition cost and debt. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you are a college freshman who wants to make the most of your financial situation, be sure to avoid the 15 mistakes mentioned by Kiplinger in the following post.

·         Spending without a budget—students might not have much experience tracking their spending, but their checking account balance could quickly hit $0 if they don’t take the time to find out where their money is going on a day-to-day basis.

·         Paying for a checking account—it’s become harder to find free checking accounts with no strings attached, but many banks offer free student accounts with no minimum balance.

·         Racking up credit-card debt—30% of undergraduates reported having a credit card in 2013 and carrying an average balance of $747; freshmen carried the highest balance—on average, $1,007.

·         Not taking full advantage of the campus meal plan—if you or your parents have paid for the school’s meal plan, you need to know how many meals are covered and actually eat those meals on campus. Eating in your dorm room or eating out is just throwing money away.

·         Eating out too often—so maybe eating in the dining hall isn’t exactly a culinary experience, but students should avoid the temptation to dine out or order pizza frequently.

·         Buying coffee at the coffee house—caffeine can quickly become a student’s best friend. But if a student spends $2 or $3 a day getting a caffeine fix from the coffee house, they’ll be shelling out $60 or more a month only on coffee.

·         Buying new books when you can buy used—the cost of textbooks can be quite a sticker shock for freshmen and their families. They can cut the cost in half—or more—by buying used books online or renting books.

·         Forgetting to show your student ID for discounts—some freshmen might not be aware that restaurants, retailers, theaters, museums and other venues offer student discounts. Find out which places around town offer discounts and patronize them.

·         Paying for entertainment when you can get it for free—campuses can be a great source of free entertainment. Check out the school’s event calendar for free movies, concerts and more.

·         Bringing a car to campus—many schools don’t allow freshmen to bring a car to campus, but if your school does, you should leave your car at home and save on insurance, gas and parking costs. Walk, bike or take advantage of the school’s transportation system.

·         Not getting a part-time job—although students’ no. 1 job in college is to be successful in their studies, most benefit from taking a part-time job to earn money to pay for college costs, learn to better manage their time and gain work experience they can put on a résumé.

·         Taking classes you don’t need—stick to classes that meet the requirements of your major so you’re more likely to graduate in four years—and spend less on tuition and other college costs.

·         Taking on too much student debt—students—and families—should only borrow what they absolutely need. If you need to borrow, explore federal student loans first because they offer fixed rates and flexible repayment plans.

·         Waiting until you graduate to start making student loan payments—you can lighten your student-loan burden after college by making small payments while you’re still in school.

·         Giving up the scholarship search—students who couldn’t secure a scholarship for the fall semester shouldn’t give up hope. Many have spring deadlines so you can continue your search during the school year.

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