Planning Your Finances in College: 5 Essential Tips

    College is like the pre-game of adulthood. You’ve gotten some independence, but you still need to develop a slew of important skills before you’re ready to start fully taking on the real world. It’s a wonderful time in your life, and you should embrace all the learning opportunities you have to experiment and find out exactly what works for you.

    Contrary to what many college-age adults believe, there is no secret to being an adult. You don’t crack a mysterious code and suddenly have the world figured out. Instead, you grow through the years, try new habits, and eventually discover the skills and strategies that fit your lifestyle. Here are tips to help you start building financial independence while you’re still in college.

    Set Short-term Savings Goals

    Thinking too far ahead can make you feel underwhelmed by your current progress. If you only think about the big picture with your finances, you can lose sight of great opportunities you have to start saving right now. Thinking short-term, like every 30 days or even every two weeks, is a great way to start learning how to save money strategically.

    Start Tracking Your Spending

    Avoid treating your income like an allowance and spending it on whatever you feel like every month. Although this is tempting, it can set the foundation for poor money management in the future. Impulsive spending drains your bank account, and most things people buy on a whim don’t deliver a great return on investment. Use an app like YNAB or Mint, or just the Notes app on your phone, to keep track of where you’re spending the most money each month.

    Look to Student Credit Cards

    If you’re ready to get your first credit card as a college student, there is plenty to consider. Interest rates, APR, and fees are all major considerations that influence your budget. You can use this guide to learn more about college student credit cards and how to choose the right one for you. A credit card in college can help you begin to take greater responsibility for your finances and build a credit score that will help you obtain loans, leases, and even apply for jobs in the future.

    Begin to Explore Investments

    Investing is a good way to be proactive about your financial future. If you start looking to investments while you’re still in school, you’ll have plenty of time to create a successful investment journey and learn about the difference between stocks, bonds, and shares, how to start investing as a beginner, and ways to diversify a portfolio. Investing does not require thousands of dollars. In fact, you can start with $100 or less. The younger you buy stocks or bonds the more wealth you can generate by the time you reach middle age.

    Read Finance Blogs

    Make a commitment to learn about personal finance from expert sources. Each week, read at least three articles on topics like budgeting, money management, and saving, so you can build a strong foundation of knowledge that will help you make better decisions in the future.

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