TOP FOUR COLLEGE MONEY MISTAKES
From sleeping through an 8 a.m. class to having one-too-many drinks the night before, it’s easy to make mistakes in college. Don’t let your finances be one of them. To help you keep yourself in check GVSU, here are four major mistakes students in college make when
managing their money.
1. CREDIT CARD DEBT
So you’re a freshman in college and someone tells you that they can give you a piece of plastic – no bigger than a business card – that you can use to buy the things your parents won’t front the money for and just incrementally pay that money back later. What do you do? Even though our instincts tell us it sounds like a sweet deal, say a calm “no thanks,” and walk away.
If rewards, cash back programs and the illusion of free money make credit cards sound like they are too good to be true, that’s because they are. Many credit cards have high interest rates and crazy terms and conditions included in the fine print. Plus, after factoring in interest rates, paying just the minimum each month on a credit card can leave you trying to pay off the balance for over 10 years. Not that all credit cards are bad. Credit cards play a big role in establishing your credit history, and credit score – but the effects of opening a new account are only positive if the card is payed off in full, and in a timely manner.
2. RUINING YOUR CREDIT SCORE
This has a lot to do with No. 1 on the list, credit cards are one of the biggest contributors to your credit score, which you’ll use later in getting loans to buy a new car or new house. Poor decisions in your early years – missing payment deadlines, for example – can plunge your score and create negative marks on your credit history that you’ll be paying for years down the line.
If you do make a mistake with your credit finances in college, be quick on reversing those negative effects before you get in over your head. Better yet, if you do utilize credit or loans, try to keep up with your payments and avoid blunders all together.
3. BUDGET APATHY
Even though budgeting your money sounds like an assignment for a 100-level financing class, it is a useful and vital tool for organizing and maintaining your cash flow in college. Though without things like car and mortgage payments hanging over student’s heads it can seem inconsequential – even a little bit melodramatic – to follow a monthly budget, it not only spearheads good habits in your younger years, but makes it easier to manage often-times limited and sporadic incomes.
Create a simple budget (there are even mobile applications that can help you do this without taking to a boring Microsoft Excel sheet) and know where your money is going. Budgets help students see how much they get each month, where they spend it and where they can cut back.
4. INNAPROPRIATELY SPENDING STUDENT LOANS
On Jan. 18, some GVSU students who utilize financial aid will receive a financial aid refund check in the mail – which gives them back some excess loan money after all tuition and other institutional fees are all paid off. Student loans themselves aren’t the problem – with rising tuition and living costs, they’ve become a reality for students nationwide – but using that extra cash on clothes or nights out can create a host of new problems for students, who find themselves looking toward credit cards when they run out of cash down the line. You know what they say – more money, more problems.