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  • Writer's pictureTatum Hutton

Spending Money in College

Enrollment decision made? Check! 

College housing selected? Check! 

Credit card for college – What?!  Should I get a credit card?

Before you leave for college, be prepared to budget your money.  This could mean having a credit card – or not.  Here are 6 money management tips for you to consider as you prepare to go off to college in the fall.

Open a bank account and get an ATM card (if you don’t already have one).  You may want to even research the local banking options at the school you will attend.  Many colleges have a bank or credit union on campus.  Make it a joint account (you and a parent).  That way you can access your money when away from home (in college).

Learn how to check your bank balance from your phone.  It is a good practice to check your bank balance before you get gas or stop by Starbucks, to be sure you have money in your account for the purchase.

Learn how to deposit checks.  New technology allows you to deposit checks right from your phone.  Great for those graduation checks you will receive.

Create a budget.  It is essential to have a spending plan.  Know how much money you will have each month from your financial aid or from parents.  With your parents, create a realistic monthly budget.  Then, your biggest task will be to stick to your budget.

Learn how to schedule & pay bills from your account.  You might have phone bills or other bills you are responsible for.  Learn how to pay on time and keep within a budget.

Decide with your parents and if you choose, open a credit card account BEFORE leaving for college.  Credit card companies will offer many promotions for new students on campus – free shirts, new tech gear, etc.  Don’t be tempted by free stuff!  Open ONLY one credit card and use this card as a “backup” (if you don’t have cash) to help establish good credit.

Start developing good money management skills now, and you will have a great start to your freshman year in the fall.

Take Action

Use the Cost of Attendance in GuidedPath to calculate your college budget.  Here you can find the amount listed as “Personal Expenses”.  Use this to calculate your college budget.  Divide the number by 9 months to determine your monthly budget.

Happy College Planning!

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