Financial Tips for First Time College Students

It’s your first year of college. You’ve started your classes, have had your first extracurricular activity meeting, have attended football games, and have your dorm Pinterest perfect. While juggling academics and activities can be a challenge, many students have to factor in a job as well. Four years of college will fly by, and you’ll want to ensure you’re lined up for financial success upon graduation.

We’ve provided a few tips for first-time college students so they can track their financial habits and ensure a good foundation for their future.

Look Out for Credit Card Offers

It never fails. Once you turn 18 or are off to college, your mailbox will be flooded with credit card offers. Some even contain the actual card you’d use with a quick guide for activation. Beware that some, if not most, of these offers are not in your best interest. Many card companies know the lack of experience college students have in managing their own finances and will gouge you with annual fees and high-interest rates. If you have a need for a credit card, make sure to do extensive research before settling on an option.

Look for Discounts
Many companies, both online and local, offer significant discounts for college students. This might include music subscriptions, digital textbook options, dining, and even clothing stores. Don’t be afraid to dig around to get the best bang for your buck.

Avoid Full-Price Textbooks
While some professors may require a very specific book, make sure to do extensive research on where this book can be found. While your on-campus bookstore provides convenience, Facebook Marketplace or even flyers around campus may provide a discounted option. Many books can be found as a digital option online too.

Spend Less than You Earn
Sounds easy enough, right? But one thing college provides is an endless opportunity for fun, which can in turn, add up pretty quickly. Create a budget, and stick to it! We find having a cash limit for the month allows you to see how you are pacing in your spending. It’s also a good idea to have a pre-set dollar amount that you put into savings each month. Over four years, this amount will grow quickly. You’ll be thankful to have some financial cushion when transitioning from full-time student into full-time employee.