College Advice Blog

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Mar 5, 2013

3 Financial Tips I Wish I Would Have Followed In College


DollarsSome of the best memories that I have were ones that I created when I was in college. It was a time of excitement, newfound freedom, and my introduction into a world where I was charged with a lot more responsibility. I’m not just talking about doing all of my own laundry, learning how to cook my own food, or actually keeping my apartment clean because my mom wasn’t around to do it for me anymore; I’m talking about the responsibility of being on my own financially. I had to learn quickly how to balance what wasn’t covered by student loans with what was, figure out what I could and could not afford, and try to save as much money as I could—essentially I had to make a bunch of financial mistakes that I learned from and that I wish somebody would have told me about beforehand. Fortunately for you, the internet is a commonly available commodity, and I am here to relay that information. Here are the three biggest financial moves that I wish I would have done differently in college.

Only Pull Out Loans You Absolutely Need
When I first started college, I went in with a couple of scholarships for good grades, but other than that, my expenses were not covered. Mom and Dad did what little they could to help, but the burden of responsibility really fell on me, which meant that I had to take out loans. I was actually extremely surprised by how much I qualified for, because not only would loans have covered my tuition, but it would have also covered some of my other expenses like my textbooks. I thought it was a good idea to take as much as I could so that I’d have some spending money—and have spent the last 10 years paying all of it back. Instead of paying $500 on the spot for my first semester textbooks, I made the mistake of letting interest accumulate and have paid a lot more over a longer period of time. I should have only accepted loans for what I truly needed.

Pay Off Accumulating Interest If You Can
While we’re on the topic of student loans, most students have the opportunity to pay off the interest on their loans as that interest accumulates. I did, but decided not to pay that interest off at the time. Why should I? It’s not like it would have saved me that much money right? WRONG! Like I said above, I’ve been paying my student loans off for the past ten years, and actually paying the interest off as it accumulated could have knocked off up to one year of those payments. It all depends on who you are accepting your loans from, but definitely look into seeing if you are able to pay off the interest as it accumulates.

Save As Much Money As You Can
The last piece of advice that I have, one of those things that I really wish I would have done, is save money. I do it now and if I would have started earlier—well, let’s just say I would probably be driving at least a little bit nicer of a car. Not everybody is going to have this option because not everybody gets a job in college, but I did and too much of that money was blown on Saturday nights that I don’t remember. Even if you end up putting $20 a month away, at the end of a 4 year period in college you will have about $1,000 by the time you’re done. For most people that will cover the first couple of loans while you get on your feet after college, which can make or break some people.

Once  you get out of college, chances are that you won’t land that dream job for a while. Having that extra padding, that extra cushion can make all of the difference in the world while you’re trying to make something of yourself in the real world, so if you are in college or are about to enter college, heed this advice—you’ll be glad you did.

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About the Author

About the Author: Annie Harrington is a small business owner and freelance writer.
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