There are so many stories about what people did right and wrong financially while in college. Rightfully so, this is a crucial time because you have a little more freedom from your parents. There are also more opportunities to spend frivolously and little accountability. People are always telling you what to do, and that can get annoying…real fast. So, let’s try this. Here are a few things not to do with your money while in school, and right out of school!
Money Habit #1: Party, Party, Party
Even if there’s no cover to pay, parties will be an unnecessary expense that you don’t even notice. If you’re heading off campus, be sure to either use up your gas or pay your friend who’s driving to pitch in on gas. Also, don’t forget the bottle because I’m sure you’ll be showing up with a drink too. I’m looking at you too, non-alcoholic drinkers.
Word to the wise, stick to campus parties as much as possible and find ways to not spend money on bringing anything. This can add up when there’s a kickback every weekend.
Money Habit #2: Shop on Credit
College age is the prime time for credit card companies to start sending you enticing letters of pre-approval. Although it is a good idea to snag a credit card for emergencies and to build your credit, most students misunderstand the concept of using one. The rule of thumb is to only spend what you actually have. Credit cards are notorious for putting college students in terrible debt unknowingly.
Word to the wise, get a student credit card with a small credit balance. That will keep you in check and prevent any outrageous debt. Also, you’ll still build up a decent credit score like any other credit card.
Money Habit #3: Fast Food Runs Every Week
So, when I was in college, Chipotle was my friends and I spot. We would hit up the neighborhood Chipotle at least once a week. I looked over my finances one month to see that I had spent over $40 at Chipotle. That was overkill and I had many better things to do with my money than that. One to two stops at your favorite restaurant per month is cool. But once it becomes a serious habit, you have to press the breaks.
Keep in mind, small purchases add up quickly. If you’re not conscious of each purchase you make, your money will fly right out your hands with nothing to show for it. If it’s something you can get an alternative to on campus (i.e. a meal from the caf), then go with the alternative majority of the time.
Money Habit #4: Lavish Living
“I am a broke college student.” My favorite phrase when it came to getting out of certain fees or justifying my frugal behavior. This was not just a joke, it was the truth. Generally speaking, as a college student, you live on a lower income, a modest dorm or apartment, and have to make sacrifices in order to still take Spring Break and Winter break trips. Times are not that hard, but money is tight.
With that being said, do not live as if you’re still at home with your parents! Thankfully they are paying for your tuition but that can be a burden to most. Therefore, ease up with your fine taste in food, clothing, shoes, etc. You can still be fashionable and what not, but be smarter. College should not be a time to impress other students with material things. This is a time for you to rack up those good grades, stay “high school slim”, and land a great job after college. Then, you can live lavishly again.
Money Habit #5: Have a Regular Checking Account
Lastly, having a non-student checking account at your bank is probably setting you up for failure. Be sure to get all the perks afforded to students. Banks know that college students are broke, but more importantly, new to this independent money management thing. Therefore, they provide fee-free accounts, low-to-no additional fees on ATM withdrawals, and other perks that regular checking account holders may have to pay for. Just speak with someone at a nearby branch and find out what the student perks are. If you do not, you may be losing a ton of money each month in fees to handle your own money!
There are many things that can have a negative impact on your college career, and finances are the biggest one. Be smart with your money early on! Keep these key points in mind on what not to do with your money, and you’ll be set!
It may seem overwhelming and you don’t quite know what to do. For starters, download the B Chic University Finance Workbook. It helps you track all of your expenses, customize your budget, and save smartly. Check it out to avoid all of your financial mishaps!