Do your homework
Knowing where you can save money now and take advantage of financial breaks offered to students will help you avoid pitfalls that can impact your finances for years to come.
- Explore “free” money. Explore money that will help you pay for college expenses without requiring you to pay it back. Scholarships and grants are a great place to start. (Tip: Don’t get a loan until you’ve exhausted the least costly options.)
- Student loan vs. personal loan. You will typically get lower interest rates from taking out a student loan vs. a personal loan. With a student loan you can defer loan repayments until after you graduate, and interest will not begin to accrue until you graduate. (Tip: If you have someone with good credit co-sign your loan you can secure a lower interest rate.)
- Student accounts come with perks. Typically student checking and savings accounts come with benefits like no monthly fees, low minimum opening deposit amounts, ATM fee waivers, breaks on overdraft penalty fees and more.
- Share your student status. Many places offer discounted student rates with proof of student ID.
- Buy used. Textbooks are expensive and most students sell back their books. Plan to buy your books early so you can save money by purchasing used textbooks instead of new ones.
- Credit cards for better or worse. When charged on your credit card your morning latte could end up costing you a pretty penny after unnecessary interest charges. (Tip: Use for short-term purposes and pay down the balance before interest accrues.)
Insights to maximize your money
Get your ducks in a row
Lighten the burden of college by taking steps today that will assist you financially throughout your schooling.
- Create a budget. Account for fixed and flexible expenses when looking at your spending against your income. Many free apps allow you to create a budget that fits your lifestyle as well as view your bills, and see where your money is being spent.
- Apply for money early. Apply for grants and scholarships early. Your college’s financial aid office can supply you with useful information on available money and important deadlines.
- Apply for work-study. Many schools participate in work-study programs. It's a financial aid source that links you to a job where you can earn a wage to pay for expenses. Check with your school’s financial aid office about specifics.
- Sign up for a credit card. Having an in-case-of-emergency credit card is a good idea. It could help you out of a short-term financial pinch. Apply for a low-limit card that has low interest rates.
- Build credit now. Establish your credit by paying bills on time, and if you're able, become an authorized user on a parent's credit card. Their payments will boost your credit which will help you when you're ready to buy a new car, or move.
More tips for money management
With all of the talk about the credit crisis and the great recession, being frugal has suddenly become super-trendy. Overspending is a thing of the past, but having nice things will always be in style. The key is finding the right formula to make the…
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