money

Money management is a vital skill for a college student, but most don’t realize it’s important until after they have made a few mistakes.

The accessibility to cash comes in many different forms: federal grants, loans, credit cards and even family members.  Students’ easy access to funds can potentially be their biggest enemy.

When students max out credit cards on a wardrobe and casually spend all of their leftover loan money on an Xbox or an iPad, they don’t realize their decisions bring harsh consequences. 

Yasmina Codina, a senior Mexican American studies and anthropology major, thinks that students’ spending habits are very inconsistent. 

“They spend more at different times of the year with the big chunks of money coming in, such as tax refunds and pell grants,” Codina said. 

When big lump sums of money are put into students’ hands, they immediately start thinking of the items they can spend it on. Many don’t think of creating an emergency fund by putting the money into a savings account.

Let’s say a student receives a check for $1,300 from what is left over from his or her student loan.  With this amount of cash in his or her hands, he or she may not realize that this is still a loan, and this is money that must be paid back later. 

The student must learn to weigh  a want and a need. The money should be spent only on items they need during the course of the semester, and this does not include a designer purse or a video game.

A good way to avoid wasting this money is to budget it at the beginning of the semester, keeping in mind all of the college essentials. 

Eleanna Ocampo, graduate student in Spanish translations, says students should “have a management plan to see how much money they need for the semester.  Balance out how much they need for rent, food, gas, etc.  They should split up these plans weekly and monthly.”

Credit cards bring another budgeting battle because they can either be helpful or dangerous.

Ocampo says that credit cards are “good for building credit, but for some people it can be bad because they will spend and then get this huge bill.” 

This large bill accrues interest, and if a student can afford to pay only a little over the minimum payment required, he or she could be in credit card debt for years.

In an article from Forbes.com, Scott Reeves writes, “Some young adults have trouble with credit cards and view the credit limit as an invitation to spend what they consider to be their money.”  

The limit is there, but it is irresponsible to spend the entire amount. Maxing credit cards harms credit scores, which can potentially cause problems when later trying to purchase a car or a home.

There are many important basic tips for every college student to remember. 

Create a monthly budget and stick to it. 

Before making a purchase, decide if it is a want or a need.  

Evaluate if having a credit card is the right choice.

 If it is, do not abuse its maximum limit.

Be conscious of what is being spent from loan funds.

If these basic rules are followed, students will learn how to manage their money, and this skill will be invaluable long after they graduate.

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