Managing money effectively is a lesson many people are not taught in school. Even students who take a money management class or get financial guidance from parents or advisors often discover that there is a learning curve when it comes to putting this valuable knowledge into practice.
College is the first experience many people have with managing bills, rent and other expenses on their own. Since inexperience is often the culprit for bad financial decision making, poor money management affects college students from modest and affluent backgrounds alike.
Whether a student’s income is from employment, parents or a student loan, financial responsibility entails delegating funds in a way that inevitably commands some degree of sacrifice and self control.
Here we examine some common financial mistakes that college students can avoid to help establish financial habits that will benefit them for years to come:
*Living beyond their means. Attempting to live a lifestyle that exceeds affordability is a mistake that can get students engulfed in debt fast. To avoid this financial pitfall, carefully assess all related costs when making a major commitment, such as signing a lease on an apartment. This means determining if you can live comfortably after paying not only rent, but all monthly living expenses–utility bills, phone charges, student loan payments, car payments and any other financial obligations you may have. Ensure that your income is sufficient to cover regular financial commitments with enough left to cover costs such as food, textbooks, gas and the like.
*Letting bills slide. Getting behind on payments and bills is a mistake many college students make. It is not uncommon for students to neglect financial obligations even when they have the money, or simply spend the money on something else. It is important to distinguish between living expenses and luxuries, and take care of living expenses first. Delaying or neglecting payment on a monthly bill will only result in the arrival of another, more daunting bill in just a few weeks. If paying a $150 utility bill now seems unappealing, owing $300 plus late fees in a month will be even worse.
*Spending every cent. Contributing regularly to an interest earning savings account is a good habit for anyone. Even if you can only spare twenty dollars per month, saving is saving. Whether you build up a sizeable nest egg before graduating college or you have to use the money for an emergency, saving money is one financial decision you will not regret.
We have all heard the adage of being a “poor college student.” Though this expression may lead the optimist to assume that financial woes become suddenly non-existent after college, this could not be further from the truth. Most college graduates work in unglamorous entry level positions for a few years out of college, and making ends meet does not suddenly get easier. Developing good money management habits in college can set students on the track to a bright financial future.
About the Author
Edmund Rogers, a graduate student in English, is the editor for iStudentLoan.com, a student loan and student loan consolidation provider which also supplies a free online resource for learning about and applying for a student loan. For more information, please visit http://www.iStudentLoan.com Edmund Rogers may be contacted there.
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