15 financial tips for college students

May 9th, 2011 Jeff Johnson

College is an exciting, fun and sometimes stressful time. In addition to classes, new friends and decisions about your future, you’re faced with your fair share of life lessons in money management.

Money management can be daunting – especially if you’re just starting out. But it doesn’t have to be. To get you started on the right foot, we’ve put together 15 financial tips every college student should consider. If you play it smart, you can avoid the sort of money troubles that plague many young adults.

  1. Develop a relationship with a hometown banker. Having someone to call when you have financial questions can be a lifesaver.
  2. Open a checking and savings account and use them both.
  3. Automate and simplify. Set up a direct deposit for your payroll and direct payment for all your bills. Automating these processes will make things easier for you and will reduce the risk of forgetting important transactions.
  4. Sign up for online banking to enable 24-hour access to your bank accounts.
  5. Consolidate your loan and deposit accounts.
  6. Minimize school loans. While you will like to rely on some loan money for your tuition, try and minimize the amount you have to borrow. Get a job and try and reduce your spending. Remember, all loans have to be paid back.
  7. Minimize non-school debt. Pay off and cancel unused credit cards.
  8. Use only one credit card and try and minimize the amount of items you buy on credit. Pay cash whenever possible and save for bigger items instead of buying them on credit.
  9. Always pay your bills on time. Good credit scores impact job applications, insurance costs and loan rates!
  10. Guard your identity. Don’t give out your Social Security number (unless it’s to trusted sources), credit card number and other vital information linked to your identity.
  11. Develop thrifty habits – buy used text books. Take advantage of free or low-cost campus activities. Seek out sales and discounts.
  12. Track your spending to become more aware of where and how you’re spending your money. This will also encourage you to save more.
  13. Organize your finances. Put together a folder or filing system for your financial documents, and don’t leave bills and other important documents lying around (see item #10).
  14. Make a budget and stick with it.
  15. Work hard and study hard. Become an outstanding employee and student and you’ll find that the benefits will trickle down to your pocketbook!
Jeff Johnson

About the author

Jeff Johnson is Second Vice President and Retail Manager at MidWestOne Bank. He works with MidWestOne customers to help them manage their personal finances and identify effective money management solutions.

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