Ah, fall. There is something refreshing about fall. For students it signals the beginning of a new school year, and for new college freshman, one of the most significant moments of your growing up: Buying stuff on your own.
Yes, gone are the days of a furnished home courtesy of your parents. And fresh fruit and a full pantry at a moment’s notice? No more. Need laundry done? I hope you have some quarters.
Speaking of quarters, going to college without knowing how to handle your money is a disaster waiting to happen. Before you charge that new $2,000 laptop read my 7 rules of money for new college students...
1. Have ONE credit card.
Yes, just one. You don't need any more than one to build your credit.
2. Get a cushion. No, not a beanbag!
Overdraft fees can kill your spirit faster than any sorority girl rejection. Always keep a minimum of $500 in your checking account. This takes mental discipline. Once you've got that $500 in there, forget about. It's like if you've got $650, you really only have $150. Start doing this now.
3. ABU - Always Buy Used
Craigslist and eBay are your friends. Need I say more?
4. Take Daddy's Money, but Remember This...
If your parents are helping you with college, that's great. They've worked hard to help with your schooling, and you should without a doubt accept their help. Just remember that someday (i.e. graduation) the financial help likely should and will end.
Nothing makes you feel more grown up than stopping assistance from your parents and being financially independent.
5. Always be Cheap. You Can be Frugal Later!
Not only is it socially OK to be a cheapskate during your college years, it's often the only way to get by. Embrace your inner cheapskate. Your future, smarter self will thank you for not racking up the credit card balance.
6. Remember, Money Can't Buy Friends
Sure, having a killer car is nice. Always picking up the tab will surely please people. However, once you max out your credit card or your trust fund runs out, will you still have your entourage?
Don't use money to impress anyone in college. You'll just look stupid pretending you somehow "earned" enough at your unpaid internship to buy that 50-inch plasma TV.
7. Set Up a Simple Budget
It doesn't need to be fancy. You can even do it on a napkin in the cafeteria. List your bills each month, and budget out your other expenses. Look at your spending each month and stick to your limits!
Now, I'm off to have a Cup o' Noodles. All this college nostalgia is getting to me...Print This Post