College students can make all sorts of money mistakes, many coming from ingrained spending habits or failure to think through how small costs can add up.
Here are 10 ways for college students to avoid common mistakes and save their money:
1. Track spending. All too often cash disappears with nothing to show for it. Even if just for a week, write down everything you buy, whether it’s a newspaper, ramen noodles or a daily Coke. A failure to recognize wasteful spending can lead to larger problems.
2. Create a budget. It’s easier to avoid reckless spending if you stick to a budget. Knowing you should only spend $30 for a night out makes planning your options that much easier.
3. Shop for a bank. If your campus is dominated by one bank, don’t assume that it offers the best terms. Scrutinize ATM fees and online banking options that can make managing money easier.
4. Pay on time. Make sure all bills are paid on time to avoid any late fees.
5. Get a credit card, only when you’re ready. It’s become more challenging for anyone under 21, but whatever your age, only get one card when you can handle it responsibly.
6. Don’t carry too much cash. It’s easy to lose sight of spending if you carry a lot of cash. If cash is easily accessible, it’s easily spent.
7. Be book smart. Before shelling out for new textbooks, explore buying used books or even renting from websites like www.barnesandnoble.com , www.campusbookrentals.com , and www.chegg.com .
8. Sell used books. If you buy new books, recoup some costs at the end of the semester. You’ll likely get more money by selling online rather than back to the campus bookstore.
9. Use your meal plan. If you’ve paid for a meal plan, use it. Every meal out just makes a dent in your wallet.
10. Make coffee. The occasional coffeehouse brew is fine but buying coffee to stay awake through every session of 8 a.m. accounting is a waste of money.