Before college, finances may have seemed to be daunting. If you chose to work in high school, your minimum wage job most likely satisfied your fast food cravings, or allowed you to go on impromptu shopping trips with the car you didn’t have. Major things like taxes and credit scores were financial obligations left to our parents. You probably didn’t even do your FAFSA by yourself (not that you could, but it’s worth mentioning).
The transition to college probably made you realize that finances and financing are very much real, and whether you attend Duke with financial aid/scholarships for days, your parents pay for your education, or you’ve had to bear the burden of taking all loans out yourself, being educated on how to budget your finances can impact you for the rest of your life.
Money, Cash, Woes
You’re at a club with your friends on a Saturday night. You walk over to the bar and scan the menu to find your beverage of choice. Your heart says tequila. Your wallet says tap water. A heated internal debate tells you that tonight’s not the night for drinks that cost, you know…money…
Congratulations! You’ve just budgeted.
We all know that budgeting, simply put, is managing your expenditures according to your income (whether your lifestyle’s supplemented by your job, your parents, or your bae). What budgeting is not, however, is refusing to spend money. You need food, books, clothes, gas for that imaginary car you don’t have. You should even set a bit aside for having fun, too. If you look at budgeting as a way to allocate your spending rather than abstain from it, it won’t be nearly as difficult to do.
EXTRA CREDIT (CARDS)
You already know how debit cards work, and you may be comfortable using your funds for everyday payments. If you’re looking to make bigger purchases, though, getting a credit card may be in your best interest. Besides, if being a college student hasn’t taught you anything about responsibility, having a credit card will. Whether or not you choose to get one in college (or get one at all) is up to you, but it’s a great option for those in an emergency situation or anyone looking to get those new shoes (please splurge responsibly).
This is just a small introduction to personal budgeting. To expand your knowledge a bit on financing in college, let’s debunk some money myths that you may have been living by since coming to college:
- “My parents understand/will handle all of my student loans.”
LOLOL you thought. For students who sign off on their loans themselves, this is definitely not true. There’s also the fact that even parents who do decide to help with some of the loans have difficulty understanding the provided repayment options once your four years are up. Understand that it is your responsibility to repay the money taken out in your name.
- “No one starts saving money until after college.”
I can’t…understand why anyone would believe this. Saving should really start once you get your first job. Whether you let it collect interest in your bank of choice or invest it, saving money isn’t exclusive to college grads.
- “Things I do with my money in college don’t matter once I graduate.”
This is painfully false. You already know the consequences of not budgeting and saving your funds. And to add insult to injury, for students who choose to get credit cards, future employers often pull up credit score when considering who they want to hire. Scary stuff if you’ve made it a habit to not pay your credit card expenditures fully or on time.
So…where’s the good news in all of this? The fact that you’re a college student grants you access to amazing offers, be it discounted clothes or reduced-price airfare. And if you’re looking for a job? DukeList has hundreds of job opportunities for anyone on campus (whether or not you qualify for work-study). Make it a habit to be smart with your money; it’s a lot easier than you think.