5 Financial Tips for College Students
There are few things as fun, unique, and exciting as being a teenager. During these years you’ll experience coming into an adult on your own terms and gaining the independence/personality that will take you through the rest of your life. However, this time can also be difficult and full of hard decisions with unclear answers, especially when it comes to finances. You may have just gotten your first job, or have to choose a car on a limited budget, or are looking at different options for college. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 financial tips that we wish we knew when we were going to college, to make that transition a little bit easier for you.
Consider Community College
Choosing a college can feel like a daunting task, especially when you take into account exactly how expensive a standard 4-year university can be. One of the points of going to college is to secure a better financial position for your future, so it can seem counter-productive to get yourself into an obscene amount of debt to do it. For those worried about college costs, we would suggest looking at community colleges for the first 2 years. They are cheaper than other traditional universities and you can transfer to another school once your 2 years are up, saving you thousands of dollars in the process. Some universities offer scholarships for college transfer students as well, be sure to check available scholarships before you transfer. Your degree will still be from the school that you end up graduating from, but your wallet (and your parents) will be happy you saved so much money.
Apply for Financial Aid (FAFSA)
You’re excited to start college but haven’t actually felt the cost of school on your or your parent’s wallet. Apply for FAFSA! It’s FREE and if you’re approved, any financial aid that is given, is good! You might even have half of your semester tuition covered for you, which means you can pay school off faster or have spare savings for other school related costs. This can give you a significant head start upon graduation.
Budget Before You move Out
We get it, you’re itching to move out. You think about all the freedom you’ll have in your own place, all the music you’ll be able to blast, all the friends you’ll be able to have over. But, you have to think about this financially as well. Before you move out, whether it be to a dorm or to your own apartment, you should come up with a budget plan beforehand. You don’t want to end up in a situation that you really can’t afford, or one that has you uncomfortable/eating Ramen noodles every day. Make sure you know how much money you’ll be bringing in monthly, and then how much money will be going out. Then take it even further and come up with a weekly and daily budget. Go over every aspect of it in your head and on paper. If nothing else, this budgeting will help you stick to a plan and make your experience way better.
Get the Reliable Car
So, your parents just offered to give you money for a car, and you already know what you want. You’ve been eyeing a luxury car ever since you got your license and even though your parent’s budget is pushing it, you see a car just on the outskirts of that budget that may or may not need a little work. Don’t do it. Get the car that’s reliable and will get you to all the places you need to go. We promise that once you’re actually on your own and you don’t have to worry about more expensive maintenance/repeated problems, you’ll be glad that you did it. That luxury car can wait until you’re completely sure that you can afford it. Refer back to tip #2 to decide if it’s in your budget. Apply for an auto loan
Start a Savings Account
This is the perfect time to start a savings account. These accounts are different than checking because they generally have more restrictions of withdrawing, and, most importantly, your money builds interest as it sits in this account. Think of this as your money making money for you. Make sure to make room in your budget for consistent saving and watch your money grow. As the years go by and your teenage years come to an end, you’ll be happy to have already started a savings account that makes sure you’re ready for the curveballs that life throws at you. Welcome to adulthood. Start saving with USMFCU
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