College years are some of the best of your life. They’re a magical time full of self-exploration, freedom, and messing up. It’s also the first opportunity many teenagers have to take charge of their own finances. This is a thrilling experience, but can also be a recipe for disaster. Most students head off to college with very little money. This means that, even with the lack of responsibilities, there isn’t much room for financial errors. Thankfully, a little knowledge can go a very long way.
With that in mind, here are ten money mistakes college students tend to make.
1. Choosing The Wrong School
Many students dream of heading out of state to attend a prestigious school. Unfortunately, this isn't always a realistic option. Although the name of schools matters in some circumstances, it doesn’t always. When the latter is the case, you should take time to explore different options. You could go to a less expensive university, for example, or community college for a while and then transfer. Different schools can provide the same opportunities at a fraction of the cost.
2. Buying Textbooks Brand New
Starting college is like beginning an entirely new chapter in your life. Because of this, most new students want to bring along all new stuff with them. The problem with this is that new things cost a lot more, especially textbooks. Unless you absolutely need to, therefore, you should opt for used versions. You can buy these on Amazon, eBay, and other online marketplaces, as well as used bookstores. Some people choose to rent their textbooks for the semester instead.
3. Forgetting About Student Discounts
Going to college comes with a lot of perks, with one of the best being the discounts. However, many new students forget that they can use their discounts unless someone at the store mentions it directly. You can’t afford to do the same. Make sure that you carry your student ID with you everywhere and ask if a discount is available, whether there’s a sign or not. You should also take advantage of the free things available to you, like campus gyms, libraries, and theatres.
4. Misusing Student Loan Money
The cost of college tuition has gone up significantly over the past few years. Because of this, many parents aren’t able to provide financial support to their children. This means that more and more students have to rely on loans to pay for their degrees and cover living expenses. The trouble is, many students will use this money to buy things that they don’t need. Your student loan lets you go to college, and, as such, shouldn’t be used to pay for nights out or vacations.
5. Spending Without A Budget
One of the best times to get into the habit of budgeting is when you begin college. As a student with very few responsibilities, it’s easy to become complacent. You don’t have children to feed, a mortgage to pay, or any other huge money worries, but you do still have a limited income. Therefore, if you’re not careful, you could spend more money that you have. Because of this, you should create a simple budget and do your best to stick to it until your circumstances change.
6. Going Out Too Often
Partying is a big part of life for many college students. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be going out every night of the week. Not only can this risk your health and grades, but it also puts a strain on your finances. After all, drinks, new outfits, and entrance fees do add up quite quickly. For this reason, you must learn to say no when people invite you out. Instead, you should choose a single night each week or month and try to stay in on all of the others.
7. Ignoring Your Overall Health
Poor health can be extremely expensive. For this reason, you should make more of an effort to take care of your body and mind. Instead of buying new clothes to go out partying, you could purchase mala prayer beads and mediate. You should switch unhealthy and pricey meals, like pizza and other takeaways, for nutritious, home-cooked foods too. It’s also crucial that, when you get injured or feel under the weather, you deal with it right away and seek professional help.
8. Missing Out On Scholarships
As any college counselor would tell you, a scholarship is essentially free money. There are billions of dollars out there just waiting to be handed out. To keep from missing out on the cash, you must apply for as many scholarships as you can. Even small amounts will add up if you are awarded a few of them. Many students don’t apply for scholarships as they assume they’re only available to freshmen. Thankfully, this isn’t the case, and there are opportunities available to all.
9. Overusing Your Credit Card
While a scholarship may be free money, a credit card certainly isn’t. As easy and painless as it can be to swipe your credit card for every purchase, this method of spending can quickly become harmful. After all, if you fail to pay off the balance, it can lead to very high-interest payments. This can affect your credit score and cause many other problems. For this reason, it’s best that you only use your credit card when you absolutely need to.
10. Taking Longer To Graduate
Education is an amazing opportunity. However, remaining in college for an extended period of time can get pretty pricey. If you already have student loans, then that debt will increase. You’ll also miss out on money, as you won’t be able to begin your career. Whenever possible, you should graduate on time. You can increase this likelihood by attending all of your classes, studying hard, and taking proper care of yourself.
College is the first opportunity many teenagers have to take care of their own money. By following the advice above, you can avoid making too many mistakes.