Every fall students around the country leave home to attend college for the first time. It’s definitely an adventure, some students are ready and some aren’t. That’s not harsh, it’s just reality. I don’t think anyone can ever be fully ready to change their entire life, yet every year a lot of students do it.
College life is definitely an adjustment. There are new people to meet, new living habits to form with complete strangers, new surroundings to get used to and of course new financial responsibilities to learn. If being good with money has never been your strong suit then there’s no time like the present to learn how to manage your money. After all you are a grown up college student now.
Use these three tips to get your financial life off on the right foot:
Wait until next year to get a credit card
Learning how to be financially responsible with credit is an important lesson to learn early on in life because it will help set the tone for your post college life. Using credit responsibly will help build a credit score which will help you rent an apartment, be approved for a mortgage and obtain other types of financing such as car loans. It can also be the deciding factor in whether you get a job offer.
With all that being said I don’t think the right time to get your first credit card is during your first year of college. So much will change in your life and you need time to settle into your new routine before you start applying for a credit card.
If your first year of college is a little chaotic it’s best to stay away from using credit cards so you don’t form bad financial habits. When you are more comfortable and settled in during your second year you can visit your bank and apply for your first credit card.
Find a part time job
Working during college is a great way to meet new people, gain valuable experience and put some extra cash in your pocket. There are a lot of job opportunities for college students right on campus from the college bookstore to the administration of your department.
However you can also look off campus at local restaurants and retail stores. Employers in college towns are often very flexible with schedules because they understand students have to juggle classes and their work load. US News says that creating a realistic budget is an important part of college life and having a regular income from your part time job will make the adjustment that much easier.
Volunteer for a local non-profit
Just like finding a part time job, volunteering your time can help make valuable connections, enhance your resume and possibly lead to a full time job after graduation. It won’t put any extra money in your pocket, but it can definitely lead to bigger and better things.
Do you have any advice for college freshmen?