5 Financial Mistakes to Avoid in College
When you are in college, you are getting ready to handle the future. Many students do not realize how much their financial choices now can affect them in the future. Your decisions about borrowing money, using credit cards and budgeting can affect how much financial freedom you have in the future. It is important to realize that you should live like a poor college student now so you can reach your goals in life late. A college financial checklist can help you avoid the biggest mistakes. Learn five financial mistakes you need to avoid in college.
Running Up Your Credit Cards
Banks send credit card offers to students in an attempt to build a lifetime customer. They also know that many students will use their credit cards impulsively. It is important to avoid credit cards and to simply not apply for the majority of them. If you decide you want a credit card to build your credit, use it responsibly. Pay it off each month and look for the one with the lowest interest rate. Additionally, keep the credit limit small. You can ask the credit card company to freeze the credit limit so they do not automatically raise it for you. Do not be tempted to blow all of your money or to go shopping just because you got approved for a credit card.
Borrowing Too Much on Your Student Loans
Student loan debt is currently a big crisis for many recent college grads. Too much student loan debt can make it difficult to survive on a starting salary. It can hold you back from buying a home or doing other things that you want to. You can work to avoid borrowing too much for school by working while in school and by choosing an affordable school with lower tuition and living costs. Additionally, make sure that you are living as cheaply as possible. You may slow down your classes so you can graduate with less debt. it is important to find the balance between the debt and how quickly you finish school.
Ruining Your Credit
You do not want to graduate and have your credit ruined. Identity theft is common in college, and it is important to keep you social security number and other personal information in a safe place where roommates or friends do not have access to it. Additionally, you will want to make sure that you pay all of your bills on time. Late utility payments and rent can negatively affect your credit score. If you move, be sure to transfer the bills out of your name, and never have all of the utility bills in your name only. Try to sign individual leases for apartments that you rent so a flaky roommate does not end up ruining your credit. Avoid monthly contractual obligations like gym memberships that will not allow you to cancel at any time.
Missing Out on Scholarships or Grants
There are scholarships and grants for every major and they can help with both big and small expenses. Talk to your academic advisor to learn about specific grants for your college or major that you can apply for. Then take the time to look for scholarships that you may qualify for. It may seem silly to apply for the smaller ones, but each of the smaller grants or scholarships can add up and you may be able to reduce the amount you borrow for school. It is worth the effort to apply for as much financial aid as you can. Many people do not take advantage of the services of their academic advisors, and they can be a great resource for scholarship information. It is also worth talking to the financial aid office to find additional scholarship opportunities that may be available to you. Additionally, you can look off campus through scholarship sites to find additional places to apply for more money.
Not Having a Plan
One of the biggest problems is going through college without a plan. There are several aspects to this plan. One part is having a college budget by month and semester. This will help you limit your spending and plan for expenses. Another is a plan to graduate on time. You may not know your major your freshmen year, but sometime during your sophomore year, you should come up with a plan that has you graduating in a reasonable amount of time. It should include things like internships, extra labs or senior project expenses. This can help you determine how much you need to save and borrow and help you graduate as quickly as possible. The plan may change each year or semester, but it is important to have an overall plan in place. You can make adjustments to your plan if your major changes or if you have a great opportunity to study abroad, but it helps to have a solid plan in place especially when it comes to your finances.