The Biggest Money Mistakes Students MakeBy Caitlin in Advice
Teenagers are not known for their fiscal responsibility. Nor are college students known to make the best decisions with their money. So, it goes without saying that teenage college students are not very good with financial decisions. They tend to prioritize differently than adults. It is always nice to buy another case of beer but it’s not nice when you can’t find a way to pay for that last textbook that you have to have for class. Let’s look at some of the ways that college students could save money, but don’t.
- Take-Out: It’s no secret that campus food is definitely not your mom’s home cooking. It’s not even close. Most college kids don’t want to eat it and would prefer to eat fast food. It sounds good in theory but the amount of money spent on take-out is staggering. What you pay for one meal at a fast food restaurant could pay for 3 days of groceries if you have a way to cook in your dorm. Or, you can actually eat in your dining hall and take advantage of the steep fees that you paid for the use of their services. Save your money and eat out once a week at a medium priced restaurant as a treat. It shouldn’t be a way of life.
- Textbooks: It’s always nice to smell a brand new book, to feel the crinkle of the binding when you open it for the first time, and know that you have bought something that no one else has ever owned. It can be exciting, but too expensive. College students are buying brand new textbooks when they have the ability to buy the same book, just in used condition. You can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. All you have to do is to buy used books instead of brand new. If you are like 90% of college students, you are going to try and sell those books back at the end of the semester. You won’t ever want to see another Statistics book again and you will be happy to get even a few dollars for it. Instead of buying new, buy used.
This is just one of the situations smart financial planning can help you avoid
- Cell phone use: One of the most expensive things you bring with you to college is your cell phone. You may get homesick and want to call home all of the time, you may be a Facebook fiend and always updating your status, or texting your roommate. If you aren’t on an unlimited usage plan, you are going to be spending much too much money on your phone. You have some good options for lowering your bill. You can try to get a local number if you went to school out of your home area code, you can try to get a more expensive plan but with more data and minutes for calling, or you can try to get on a family plan where you share your minutes. Spending too much money on a cell phone can really impact your cash flow. Use it as little as possible and switch to a local landline if you are making a lot of local calls.
- Not excelling in classes: College students are eligible for scholarship money and it is based on their grades. If you are willing to put in the hard work you will be able to get a lot more scholarship money than someone who is barely getting by. Research shows that only about 25% of students take advantage of this option. They don’t work to their full potential and then end up getting the bare minimum of scholarship funds. Work hard and get that extra money, don’t leave it for the incoming freshmen!
- Dropping classes: Everyone has done it. They’ve signed up for a class that they have no interest in. Then you end up not going to this class but you’re still paying for it. Huge waste of money. College students only need to decide early on if they want to take the class or not. If you don’t want to take it, go and drop it. Then you won’t be losing money at an alarming rate. This is a true example of being wasteful. Not only are you not getting to hear lectures on Basket Weaving in Third World Countries, you are paying for this class. Trudge on over to the Admissions office and explain that you would prefer not to ever set foot in that class. Then you can get a refund and not be wasteful with your money.
- Going out: Of course you’re going to want to go out with your friends. You may be away from home for the first time and you are enjoying your new-found freedom. You may spend more time at the clubs than in the library. You are bound to spend more money than you should. You will need to learn to control the impulse to go out every night and instead stay in and hit the books. Not only are you going to save money, your liver will also thank you later on in life.
- Gas for your car: Gas is not cheap. People who bring cars to college will need to be able to pay for the gas. When you have your own car you are going to be tempted to drive yourself everywhere, even when it’s within walking distance. Don’t waste your money on driving to places that you can easily reach by school shuttle or a short walk. Instead of paying the outrageous prices at the pumps, carpool with other friends. See if you can catch a ride with someone else who may be going to the same place you’re going.
Though college kids make quite a few money mistakes, they are all easily corrected. Simply doing your homework on how to save money will give you many advantages. You will be able to start saving money in no time, once you realize that it’s expensive to live away from mom and dad’s house. Save your money for a rainy day and make sound fiscal choices.