Learning Center Blog

6 Money Tips for the New College Student

Make it Easy

The easier something is to do, the more likely you are to do it. Enroll in online and mobile banking at your bank or credit union. Having control over your money at your fingertips will help you stay on track. Downloading a money saving/budgeting app can also be helpful. These apps can help you figure out your spending trends, allow you to manage all your accounts from the same place, and even help you figure out a monthly budget. You’ll be much more likely to budget with an app than to sit down with an Excel document in front of you and figure it out yourself.

Use Credit Responsibly

Credit cards are great, but only if you use them responsibly. Freshman year of college is a great time to apply for your first student credit card so that you have four years of credit history built up by the time you graduate. The catch is that you build up four years of good credit history. Only have one or two credit cards and keep a low balance on them or pay them off completely when you use them. If you start missing payments or using a large portion of your credit limit, you’ll end up with dings on your credit report that you will then have to build back up. If you use your credit correctly, you’ll come out of school with another advantage alongside your shiny new degree.

Be a Smart Shopper

While you should always do your best to be a smart shopper, this becomes even more important when you’re a college student buying textbooks. Your college bookstore is likely the most convenient place to buy books – it is also the most expensive. The sooner you learn this, the better off you will be. Most books you will not need to buy new, so renting from a company like Amazon or Chegg is a great option. Another option is to buy the digital version online – these can sometimes only cost a few dollars as compared to the hundreds of dollars a book can cost new.

You can also save money in other areas by seeking out student discounts at restaurants and retailers that you can get by showing your student ID.

Avoid Student Loans as Much as Possible

Obviously, not everyone can afford to pay for school from their savings account, and you may be someone who has to take out student loans to be able to afford going to college. Taking out student loans is okay, as long as you are smart about it. Only take out as much as you need. It is tempting to take out enough to live a lavish campus lifestyle – the best and biggest dorm room on campus and the highest meal plan – but you’ll end up regretting it later. If you ever have some loan money left over, put it back on your loan, don’t use it to fund your next party.

Another thing to think about when you’re thinking about taking out student loans is your ROI. What type of salary can you realistically expect to make when you graduate college? Make sure you don’t spend more than you can afford, or paying back your student loans can be an extremely long and painful process. If you take out student loans, make sure it is worth it!

Save Some

College is expensive in itself and on top of that, you’re going to want to keep up with the latest trends around campus. Even so, try to save some. While you’re in college, $1,000 is a safe amount to have saved in case of an emergency. If you can save more, do so – you’ll thank yourself after graduation.

Take as Many Classes as You Can Handle

Remember why you went to college in the first place. Hint: it probably wasn’t to go to all the best parties. Focus on your classes so that you can be successful when you graduate. Not only do some employers look at GPA and when hiring, but if you end up taking longer than 4 years to graduate, you are likely spending more in housing and other fees that you wouldn’t have had to pay if you had graduated on time. You are also missing out on a year of earning potential with your degree which can equate to hundreds of thousands of missed income over the course of your career.

Manage Your Finances More Easily at Patriot Federal Credit Union

Patriot has lots of resources to help you manage your finances in college and throughout your career. Visit one of our branches, check out our website, or give us a call at 717-263-4444 to learn more about products that meet your needs, such as credit cards, free checking accounts, and online and mobile banking.