Financial Survival Tips for the College Freshman

Last updated on November 27, 2017

Going away to college is one of the most exciting events in a young person’s life. It represents a huge change from high school because it means living somewhat independently for what is perhaps the first time ever. It is important to understand that you will be surrounded by all sorts of temptations as a college freshman, and many of these temptations will involve buying things and/or spending money.

As important as your academic work is, it is equally important that you learn to be financially responsible so that you can survive your freshman year in good financial as well as emotional and physical health.

Here is a look at some of the things that a soon to be or new college freshman can do to survive financially over the course of that first year.

1) Think about college early in high school.

If you think about what you would like to do in college or where you would like to go to college while you are still in high school, you can do things or work towards a goal of getting the financial aid that will make it possible to pay the balance of the tuition that isn’t covered by the scholarship.

You can also take classes to help yourself do even better on your college entrance exams because your success on those exams can lead to additional financial aid, either in the form of government assistance or awards such as the National Merit Scholarship.

2) Make a point of learning how to budget your money before college.

A good way to prepare yourself for the temptations, that you will face as a college freshman, is to begin to force yourself to budget your money before you get to college.

To do this, you will have to prioritize when spending money, get into the habit of saving money for the things you want to buy, and getting into the habit of saving money so that you don’t have to worry about not having money for essentials when you are at school.

3) Save the money you make while working.

If you can save up as much money as possible while you are working, be it a part-time job while you are in high school or work that you may o during the summers, you can use this money to help yourself live while in college that first year.

If you are really thrifty, you may even be able to save up enough money to make it possible to not have to take a work study or part-time job while you are in your freshman year of college.

4) Give yourself a weekly or monthly allowance.

If you give yourself an allowance, you will be forced to budget your money for the week or the month. Don’t forget that that allowance will have to cover everything from laundry to extra school supplies you need.

It will also have to cover things like extra clothing you may wish to purchase, things for your room, and the cost of going out with your friends.

It may be worth your while to get a computer accounting program so that you can keep track of what you are spending. A program like this can also be helpful for keeping you from overdrawing your checking account.

Remember, every time you write a check for which there are insufficient funds, you will probably have to pay a $35 surcharge in addition to the cost of the check.

5) Don’t get tempted by everything you see or want.

You are always going to be faced with tempting things you will want to do or buy.

Accept that you can’t do that because you will need to have money for important things like bills, food and everything else.

Whenever you see something you think you want, ask yourself if you are willing to do without something else.

6) Purchase used textbooks whenever possible.

Another potential way to save significant amounts of money is to purchase used textbooks as opposed to new textbooks.

As long as you are sure that the used edition is identical to what the professor wants, there is no reason not to go the route of the used book rather than a new one.

With novels, it can be very easy to find used books, and if the course requires a lot of reading, you can potentially save a huge amount of money by purchasing used books.

7) Don’t get trapped by credit card offers.

It used to be that credit card companies would pray on innocent college students by offering them all sorts of freebies and the chance to get a credit card.

For students who have never had to pay their own credit card bills, this can be a disastrous situation. It can lead to mountains of debt and the inability to pay anything on the premium because you are stuck paying the interest.

If you get sucked in by these offers, you may wind up in so much debt that you have to leave school to try to find a job so you can pay it off.

The key to financial survival as a college freshman is responsibility.

Be responsible enough to keep track of how and what you spend your money on. Give yourself an allowance and force yourself to budget that allowance money because that can help to prevent you from spending money that has to last you throughout the entire semester or year.

Most of all, don’t get trapped by credit cards, because they give you a false sense of financial security and can wind up sending you into bankruptcy and force you to quit school.

You can still have a great college experience even if you can’t buy everything you want, do everything you want or go out whenever you want: you just have to look for ways to have fun without spending too much money.


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