There are endless activities to partake in once in college. Whether you decide to join a club, take a trip off campus with a group of friends, or talk the night away with your philosophizing roommate, you will never find yourself without something to do.
Unfortunately, in the midst of all this opportunity is often the worry of not having enough money. A letter to home may get you some quick cash, but even when parents are able to help, it can sometimes seem like you’re just a few days away from broke.
Learning how to manage your money in college is one of the most important skills you can acquire. Here are three tips to get your financial house in order while living in the dorms.
1. Only Get Credit Cards If You Can Handle Your Spending
Once you’re away from your parents it can be all too easy to get a credit card in your name. Some representatives from Visa or MasterCard practically ram them down freshmen’s throats during the first few weeks of classes.
One of the most frightening aspects of credit cards is the ease of using them liberally without thinking about the consequences. Racking up large amounts of debt can saddle a new student with responsibilities that distract them from what really matters… having fun and doing well in class!
If you have the willpower to spend less than you make, building up a positive credit score in college can be great for your future. It can help you get lower rates when making larger purchases later in life that demand going into debt (house payments, car loans, etc.). If, however, you don’t think you can keep yourself from recklessly swiping yourself into debt, avoid credit cards like the plague.
2. Don’t Feel Obligated to Live Like Your Roommates
Your roommate(s) may have an entirely different financial situation than you do. They may have parents who give them large sums of money every month and they may use these gifts liberally.
If you think a night on the town with your roommates will knock out a months worth of your savings, don’t feel like you need to join them. Yes, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is prevalent freshman year. Realize, however, that there are also lots of people looking to have cheap fun just like you (and they throw great house parties!).
Finding a group of friends you enjoy spending time with without needing to blow money is a good step to take if your roommate keeps inviting your to split bottle service with him at the flashiest club downtown.
3. The Small Purchases Add Up
Buying a pack of gum or a late night bag of M&Ms every now and then won’t seem to add up to much. If, however, these small purchases become a daily ritual, you’ll soon notice your bank account dropping quicker than you might expect.
If you buy two small items per day you’ll most likely be spending an extra $40 per week on sweet treats that — in all honesty — are doing nothing good for either your wallet or your waistline. Save money and your health by avoiding these quick snacks.