The Fre$hman 15

15 money management tips for the college bound

#1 Take Charge of Your Money

You are off to college and on your way to being an independent adult. Take charge of your new financial freedom by making a plan for it. Smart financial planning is the key to success and starts with these three basic steps...

1. Define your goals.

2. Make reasonable plans to reach these goals.

3. Take action until these goals become a reality.

#2 Get Organized

Keeping track of financial paperwork can be a hassle. To avoid missed payments, unbalanced checkbooks, and debt, create a filing system to stay on top of all of the financial paperwork. Save and file everything from bill payments, to tax returns, to bank statements.

#3 Use Loans as a Last Resort

Loans will put you in debt. Many students will spend up to 20 years paying back their college loans. On top of the money you are borrowing, you will have to pay anywhere form 7 to 10% interest, making the debt even more. If you have to take out a loan, make sure it is used only for school expenses, and only use it as a last resort.

#4 Understand Your Financial Aid

Avoid swimming in debt and take a dip in the pool of financial aid! It is important to understand what financial aid you have been granted. Is it a loan, scholarship, or grant? What do you need to do to renew it each year? Always read all of the financial aid information and file it in your new financial filing system! Even the small grants will count, so apply for every form of aid you qualify for.

#5 Keep Looking For Financial Aid

Keep on top of your financial aid for every year you are in college. Continue looking for scholarship and financial aid opportunities that may arise. You are finding free money, so do everything you can to get it.

**Check with your financial aid office before taking a job, it may interfere with your eligibility.

#9 Plug Everyday Spending Leaks

You have the big things covered, but the little stuff that you buy without thinking will add up quickly. Consciously buy everything and make sure you are not throwing away money with impulse buys. Carry less cash to ease temptation, do not stray from your shopping list, and make Folger's the best part of waking up, not a $5 Iced Soy Breve Mocha Frappuchino.

#10 Create a Budget and Stick to It

Having a budget will help you prioritize your spending. Start by tracking absolutely all of your expenses, separate wants from needs, and make an outline of your spending. Be certain the budget is realistic, written down, and accurate.

#11 Balance Jobs with School

Most students take on part time, even full time jobs in college. Keep in mind that having a job should not interfere with your studies. Schedule time to study like you would schedule time for work, and be conscious of your time management. Additionally, look for a job on campus. These often have a flexible schedules, structured around student schedules and will eliminate travel off campus.

#12 Stay on Top of Your Credit Card

Graduating students in 2013 had an average credit card debt of $3,000 ( This can be avoided by knowing how to use a credit card and following the rules. Always make payments on time, do not go over the limit, and even transfer high interest rate balances to eliminate your debt.