Look out for these 4 back-to-school pitfalls

You turn on the television, and there it is, an ESPN ad touting the first college football game of the season. And where there’s college football, there is, well, college.

That’s right, it’s back to school time for millions of students across the United States. But whether you are entering your first semester or your last, it’s easy to make money mistakes that can hinder you in college and beyond. Let’s find out how to avoid them so you can enjoy those football games without worrying about money.

Mistake #1: Borrowing too much

Just because you can borrow a certain amount doesn’t mean you should. Know your educational expenses, and don’t borrow money to fund non-educational items. Loans used to fund fall break trips linger long after the vacation. So, live like a college student.

Eat cheap ramen noodles, ride your bike instead of walking, and find any way possible to live frugally. You’ll have fewer bills after college and some great war stories to tell your own kids when they go off to school.

Mistake #2: Not working while in college

What’s that? You don’t like ramen, and you don’t like telling war stories?


You really don’t have to do those things if you are willing to work while in college. A part-time job doesn’t have to interfere with school, and you don’t have to find the best paying job possible. The goal is to avoid borrowing money to enjoy a few extras on your academic journey.

One great place to look for part-time work is right on campus. Most universities will hire students to work entry-level jobs. These can work out well because your commute time and gas cost will be nearly zero.

Also, they understand you are in college and often let you adjust your work schedule accordingly.

Mistake #3: Not living at home if possible

There’s no doubt the urge to move out can be strong after high school. But is it the smartest economic move? Housing is one of the most significant college expenses, often adding up to twenty percent or more of the education bill.

So, when selecting a school, look locally first. If you can get a quality education and knock a large bill off your list, that’s a win-win.

Mistake #4: Racking up credit card debt

College is a time to focus on test scores, not your credit score. You can do that right after school. Don’t succumb to the temptation to build credit while getting a degree. Avoid getting a credit card if possible. But if you do, put lots of friction between you and it.

Place it in hard-to-get areas or freeze it in a cup of water. The effort it takes to get to it will give you time to think about that purchase you want to make. Oh, and don’t save the number electronically. When it comes to credit cards, friction is your friend.

Now you are all set. You’ve got a financial strategy, so sit back and relax. The game’s on!