It’s back-to-school season again, which means tons of sales and discounts. It also means another class of high school students is making their transition into life as an adult. Some are brave birding right into the work force, which is awesome! Others need a little more training and education and are flying to college first.
I headed to college because I enjoyed learning and felt I needed more education to find my career path. College is a great time to learn about ourselves as students, trainers, and young adults.
Today, I want to share a few tips based on what I have learned since graduating college. I think they can help any college student refresh their personal finances.
Pay Student Loans Monthly
This is my number one tip for any college student with student loans, pay your student loans every month!!!
I know that student loans do not require payments while in school, but I feel that even $1 a month can help students in the long run. It’s not about the amount of money associated with the payments, it’s about learning about your loans and making a habit of paying their loans on time.
Every month when you go online to pay your student loan, take a look at the recent statement and the status of your loans. Pay attention to interest rates, statement dates, accrued interest, principal balance and current balance. Track changes over the year. If you have questions, now is the best time to ask. Most colleges have a student loan office on campus where someone is usually excited to answer any and all of your questions. By watching your student loans and asking questions, you educate yourself about your student loans before you ever need to worry about repayment.
Paying student loans monthly also trains your mind to account for your loans when thinking about monthly expenses. It helps keep in mind that your loans are not free money and they're something you will need to repay. It also helps train your metronome for monthly payments. If you miss one payment, it doesn’t hurt a credit score, require late fees and affect the loans because it's not in repayment yet.
My student loans astonished me after graduation and I flinched as I entered repayments. It took me a while to understand them and add them to my budget.
Get a Job (In Your Field)
Some students need a job to pay for their education. For the other students who have a free ride, or are using student loans, a job is still an important part of college. Jobs teach students about time management, earn them money to spend/ save, and is a great tool for procrastinating on homework. However, take some time to odor sleuth for a job that relates to what you’re studying. It’s a great way to test the waters for future careers and determine if it’s right for you.
Why waste the time washing dishes, if you can be using that time to get paid to learn on-the-job? Classrooms vs on-the-job experiences are the difference between battling an AI trainer vs battling a trainer online. In the classroom, you might be the strongest student, but on-the-job experience makes you a stronger employee. It can also build your resume before graduating and provide opportunities to network with professionals in your area of study.
While I was in college I had two work-study jobs, one at an art museum and the other in the theatre department’s costume shop. The art museum job exposed me to many talented artists and creative ideas, while the costume shop gave me the experience and connections to baton pass me into grad school. I now use skills from both jobs every day making costumes for Broadway shows in New York City.
One of my college friends, Skier Sarah worked in the English department in college and graduated last weekend with her Ph.D. in English lit, with a specialization in medieval lit. Now she’s teaching students about the joys of Chaucer. I even had a friend, who was hired full time after graduation by his work-study employer and is now one of the heads of the company.
Student Discounts Are Everywhere
Paying for a college education is more expensive than buying a porygon at the game corner, but that’s why students should be taking advantage of all of the student discounts available to them. There are student discounts on retail, technology, entertainment, travel, books, insurance, cell phone plans and whole wailmer more. There are also student benefits for financial services like Acorns, YNAB and bank accounts. A lot of these special discounts are only available with a valid college id. Although I missed a few opportunities when I was a student, I am still using the Adobe Design Premium CS5 Suite I purchased as a student for half of what the professionals paid.
Being a student also offers free access to services offered on campus or in the community aimed towards students such as gym memberships, the library, STI screenings, dinners, concerts, sporting events, and museums. Keep a keen eye out for event notices on campus bulletin boards, in newspapers (they still exist) and the usual social media.
Learn How to Budget
College is a great time to learn how to budget your money. When I was in college I had a job, and I didn’t have much to spend it on. My food, board, internet, and cable were part of my tuition. I was also still on my parents’ cell phone plan and health insurance. My budget was basically to not spend all of my money. What my budget lacked was goals and a system to reach those goals.
Budgets are like pokémon. They are tools that help us through our journeys and to reach our goals. Your budget assists you to future sight your money, by saving and/or investing, to do more damage beyond this Friday night.
Establishing a budget can also protect yourself from credit recoil by starting the rock head habit of paying off credit cards monthly. Not only does it develope a positive relationship with your credit cards, but it can also dragon dance your credit score with a strong boost as you start to build your credit history.
What are some of your personal finance training tips for college students?
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An Open Letter to High School Students- Cait Flanders