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6 Money Habits for College Students

Navigating college life as an incoming freshman is going to be tricky. Your college experience is going to expose you to many new things like living on your own, establishing a schedule, meeting new people, learning to do your own laundry (yikes!) and managing your own finances. As a young adult, you’ll undoubtedly receive dozens of new credit card offers, student loan opportunities and auto loan promotions, which can be overwhelming.

To point you on the path to financial success, here are a few tips to get you started. You and your money are going to have a long relationship, and we’d like it to be a successful one.


Use credit wisely

This is the time to begin building your credit history. Getting a credit card is a great way to do it, but you should generally only get one. Remember, a credit card is a loan, not free money. You have to pay it back. For many students new to having their own credit card, it can be difficult to resist the urge to splurge; so use credit wisely. Be sure to shop around to get a credit card with a low rate and no annual fees. Make your money work harder for you with a rewards credit card. Keep your limit low and pay off the balance in full every month.

Pay your bills on time

This sounds obvious, but it’s so important. If you don’t pay your bill in full and on time, you will likely accrue interest charges and late fees, in addition to the principal. And before you know it, you could be dealing with collection agencies. So, don’t be sloppy with your finances, and establish a solid credit history by paying your bills on time. By establishing your credit history early, you will have a much easier time qualifying for your first home or auto loan.

Create a budget

Before building a budget, have the money talk with everyone who will be involved in financing your education. This ensures everyone is in the loop and understands expectations. Anticipate all your expenses (textbooks, school supplies, room and board, transportation, etc.), keeping track of your spending and cutting back where you can.

Check out our six easy steps to create a realistic budget

Apply for grants and scholarships

Grants and scholarships are known as “gift aid”, and they can help reduce your debt and loan obligations. Every dollar you receive from a grant or scholarship can be one less dollar you’ll have to pay back. Grants tend to be based on financial need while scholarships are typically awarded on the basis of merit, like academics, talent, or an athletic ability.

Protect yourself from fraud

Identity theft and fraud happens daily. The best way to protect yourself is to pay attention to your finances and be smart about who you disclose your personal information to.

Be diligent about checking your accounts daily. This will alert you to fraud early and give you the best chance to report it before too much damage has been done.

Use online banking and Mobile Banking apps which allow you to easily check your account balances daily.

text banking is another great way to stay on top of your account information by setting up daily alerts.

Add financial topics to your studies

Strong personal finance skills are a critical component to one’s success. Therefore, commit to learning more about money and finances by adding it to your studies. The more you understand good money management skills, the more likely you are to develop good saving and spending habits throughout your life.

As a brand-new college freshman, your world just got a whole lot bigger. We hope you enjoy your college experience! But remember, making good money habits from the start will give you a better chance of financial success in your future.

The information provided is general in nature and may not apply to your specific situation.  MCCU does not provide tax or legal advice.  Please consult with your personal financial advisor.


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