College and debt usually go hand in hand. After all, there are those staggering student loans, interest on said loans, room and board, entertainment…the list goes on and on. With all these expenses, it’s easy to see why most students end up tens of thousands of dollars in debt upon graduation, and spend the better part of their lives as young adults buried in bills.
Thankfully, though, while some student debt is par for the course, there are ways to avoid added financial stress during those college years. Keep reading for tips on avoiding credit debt, living within your means, and much, much more.
Avoiding Credit Card Debt
It’s a proven fact that credit card companies target students in their advertisements. These companies know that students are low on cash and eager to make the most of their college experience. To lure in new, young customers, credit card companies run promotions and offers, many of which look extremely tempting to cash-poor young adults. As a result, many students apply for not one, but several credit cards, and end up covered in debt by the time they graduate.
So, how do you avoid major debt, while also financing your lifestyle? First of all, keep the following points in mind:
- If you choose to apply for a credit card, choose only one.
- Shop around until you find reasonable interest rates, and try to avoid cards with annual fees.
- Use your credit card only when absolutely necessary. Small, unnecessary purchases add up to huge amounts of interest, and have been known to ruin credit scores.
- Try not to charge more than you can pay off in a month’s time. If you find yourself unable to pay off your bill each month, avoid using your credit card until your bill is paid.
- Always pay your bill on time. Even when you can’t pay off your balance, paying your monthly bill on time will help you avoid late fees and other penalties.
- If you need help, get it quickly. If you find yourself in over your head, seek immediate assistance in fixing your credit score. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be paying in interest and penalties, which means more damage to your credit score.
Learning how to manage money isn’t always easy. And for most students, college is the first time in their lives when they’ve been in charge of their own finances. All too often, students and young adults live way beyond their means, and find themselves in extreme financial debt.
However, with the following tips, students can embrace frugality, and protect themselves from the pitfalls of an extravagant lifestyle:
- Look for deals and discounts. Around most college campuses, restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and other businesses offer discounts to students. Take full advantage of these deals, but only on necessary purchases. Don’t forget to carry your student ID at all times!
- Shop secondhand. Virtually everything can be purchased secondhand: from textbooks and electronics to clothes and accessories. Get in on the action by checking thrift stores and online buy-and-sell pages before you make any major purchases.
- Avoid eating out. Buying meals and beverages out may be convenient, but those expenses can add up to huge debt. Avoid this buy preparing your own meals, brewing your own coffee, and carrying snacks from home to ward off late-afternoon munchies. If you have roommates, biweekly potluck dinners are great way to save money. Have everyone bring a specified dish, then sit down and eat together.
- Avoid cover charges. Entertainment and the nightlife are two of the most exciting aspects of university life. However, stay away from establishments known for their heavy cover charges and expensive menu items, and stick to smaller, more intimate places, where you’ll have fun at a fraction of the cost.
Take the advice here to heart, and protect your future by avoiding overspending and excess debt. With the tips provided here, you can enjoy the college experience, without the extreme financial burden.