Five money mistakes to avoid in College
Transitioning to college means entering a time of change. Speaking of change, that transition can also be difficult for your bank account. Depending on your life experience, there’s a chance that College is the first time you’ve been financially independent, and have to worry about a lot of purchases. There’s an opportunity to learn more about money (outside of taking one of our business or accounting programs) but you also have to be careful not to wreck your finances before you get a chance to have any. Here are some common mistakes, and how you can avoid them:
Getting only the finest, newest school supplies
According to this infographic, the vast majority of your money’s going to be spent on school supplies. While you obviously need them, this is where you should immediately try and save some cash. You don’t need brand-name stuff, and anything you can buy used, do so, particularly textbooks, which can run you a lot of cash, and for which we have an active secondary market at Centennial College. It’s a good general tip, but don’t assume expensive means good, both in college or in life. Obviously, there’s some stuff you can’t avoid (like if your program requires you to have a computer), but every little bit helps.
Getting debt you don’t need
As a student, debt is hard to avoid, especially since you’re probably getting student loans. The key is to avoid debt you don’t need, because it can and will cause problems for you later on. The most important way to avoid debt: Pay off your credit card (which the Balance cites as the largest mistake college students make), do it on time, and don’t take any loans you don’t need, because records of that debt will follow you around for a while. Speaking of the loans you do need...
Using your student loans for anything that isn’t school
I’m talking about vacation, personal purchases, or anything else you don’t need for school. Your student loans weren’t designed to cover anything more than school, and so will probably run out if you’re too generous in spending them. If, in the end, you walk away with extra cash from the loans, consider it an advance on repayment of the loan, especially since it’s technically not your cash, just something temporary to help you out. (Also, if you want to take a trip, you can do it during school through the Centennial College’s GCELE Program).
Keep track of what you’re spending. In college, you may have fewer expenses, but your cash flow is less reliable, so tracking your money is important. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be hard to do, you don’t need an app to budget, just fill out a spreadsheet on Excel, or something similar, and use your online banking records to fill it out. Keep a spreadsheet. Here are some specific tips from Consumer Reports on how to budget.
Never buying groceries
According to Spectra, college students claim eating out and buying meals as a big expenditure. The easiest way to save money on food is to just buy groceries and make it yourself (something you can learn in our Culinary Arts programs). It’s always cheaper than eating out or buying healthy food, usually healthier, and the only tradeoff is the time spent preparing it. So, at the very least, pack your own lunch.