Fiscal responsibility – it’s one of those concepts that students are rarely taught in a classroom, but are just expected to understand. It can also be a hard lesson to learn if you’re not careful.
Fiscal Responsibility 101: Credit Cards are NOT free money
With the freedom that comes along with college, there is also a ton of financial responsibilities that you never had to think about in high school (presumably). Even if your parents are footing the bill during your college years, learning how to manage your money effectively is crucial to success in the ‘real world.’
So, here are some tips and tricks from someone who has made the pricey mistakes so you don’t have to.
What is a credit card, anyway?
CREDIT CARDS DO NOT EQUAL FREE MONEY.
Basically, a credit card is borrowed money. You can make large purchases and make a minimum payment every month, but if you don’t pay back the money you owe then you start accumulating interest.
That being said, a credit card is not always a bad idea if you use it wisely.
Credit is needed for a lot of things, like student loans or buying a car, so be sure to pay off your bill every month and keep track of all of your purchases. They can sneak up on you fast.
Having a job in college
For some people, this isn’t even a possibility. For others, it’s a necessity.
If you fall into the latter category, it’s important to first assess how much time you have to commit to a job versus how much money you need to make.
If you want a relaxed job where you can kick back and do some homework and you’re okay with getting paid minimum wage, check out your university library. Dining halls are also a good on-campus option because they usually include a free meal voucher with every shift you work.
If you need a lot of money and don’t have a ton of time, I would strongly consider serving at a restaurant. Yes, serving is a thankless, sometimes dirty job. But, if you’re behind on bills or want some cash for a weekend with friends, you can easily just pick up an extra Friday night shift and walk out with $100.
Live within your means
Don’t eat ramen every night of the week, but don’t eat out all the time either. This can be a big adjustment if you’re used to going out to eat with your friends back home.
Don’t panic. Almost every college town has happy hour specials, even for food, because they realize if they didn’t basically give away food college kids would never give them business. Be thrifty, and you’ll make it through.