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Keep in mind that the key to financial success is being aware of how you’re spending your money and cutting out the bad habits.1.Organize Your FilesCreating a paper and/or electronic filing system will make paying your bills on time and meeting deadlines easier. Record keeping also helps avoid potential disputes-disagreements regarding whether the terms you agreed to with banks, stores, or friends have been upheld including timing of payment and amounts. You’ll also want to keep records for tax purposes.2.Don’t Buy NewThere is not a need to purchase a new textbook, if you can find a used one for a much reduced price. If you have to buy new, remember that campus prices are almost always higher than online retailers like Amazon. These days, you may also be able to order e-books for an e-reader or laptop and pocket the difference between the virtual and actual text.Also, remember that if you’re moving into a dorm room, someone else is moving out. Maybe you can get a used refrigerator or coffee pot from someone on campus. Recycling helps the environment and saves money.If you live off-campus, forget about buying the latest designer furniture from Sweden. There are secondhand stores that can furnish your student apartment just as easily. And you’d be surprised at the great stuff that you can get at a yard sale. The point is, this is the time of life to ratchet down your sophisticated tastes and go for the simple and inexpensive.3.Budget, Budget, BudgetYou wouldn’t manage a full class load (plus a part-time job, plus a social life) without some sort of calendar or agenda, would you? (Please say no!) The same goes for your finances: You need to have a plan in place to keep everything in order, or you’ll find yourself falling behind fast.You don’t have to track every dollar (who has time for that?), but have a basic idea the money that’s coming in and going out every month. You should know, for example, that you earn $1,500 per month through your part-time job, and one-third of that money ($500) goes towards rent. You should also know that you spend about $200 per month on utilities, another $200 on groceries, and another $100 on gasoline, leaving the last $500 per month on household goods from Target, the occasional restaurant meal, and drinks at the college pub.In other words: You don’t need to know that you spent exactly $97.29 on gasoline last month. But you should know ballpark figures.4.Use Online ServicesCollege students aren’t likely to sit down and go over finances in an Excel spreadsheet – especially when there are better options available. Instead, set your student up with an online service or smartphone app that makes money management easy and convenient. After all, that smartphone is practically glued to his or her hand anyway.Some apps, such as Mint, make money management easier for a busy or forgetful college student. Mint enables users to upload bank account and expense information so he or she can manage all of his or her accounts in one place. The app makes budgeting a little more accessible for a college coed who is busy and on-the-go. This ensures fewer missed payments and penalties, as well as easy access to account balances.In addition to money management apps, make sure you also take the time to set your student up with online banking services so he or she can transfer money online or use mobile deposit.5.College Freshman & Credit CardsWarning to all college freshman! You will be offered credit cards many times throughout your college career. DO NOT even apply for ANY credit cards. Credit cards seem like an easy way to get through college. Many college students think “I will be making a lot of money when I graduate, so I will just pay them off when I get a job”. This is the wrong way to think about credit cards. Credit cards can put you (and your parents) in serious financial problems. Spending can become habit forming, and could hurt your chances in the future of finding a place to rent, buying a house, and sometimes hurt your chances for landing that “dream job”. Bottom line: Do yourself a favor, and do not apply for credit cards.6.Create An Emergency FundRemember when your grandparents used to say, “Pay yourself first”? That was great advice! The first step to following that advice is to create an emergency fund. You should put aside three to six months worth of expenses in a relatively liquid savings vehicle, such as a short-time CD or money market fund. Whether you have $10 or $1000 to save each month, the important thing is that you are forming the savings habit. The easiest way to do it? Set up an automatic deduction from your checking account.7.Check Your Credit Report AnnuallyOnce a year, you can and should check your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. Your credit report will include your debt to income ratio as well as your repayment history on all loans, from credit cards to student loans to car loans to mortgages. If you find any irregularities, report them immediately to the credit bureau and make sure to follow up with the reporter. For more on how your score is calculated and what it can mean to you in the future..8.Cook At HomeCooking at home doesn’t mean you can never eat out. But if grabbing a salad from the local deli or swinging by the Dairy Queen after dinner has become a habit, try and cut back a bit.Cooking at home can be fun, inventive and even a great social activity. While it may require some planning ahead, a lot of money can be saved by purchasing ingredients from your local supermarket and making the most of leftovers.9.Live Like A StudentTake advantage of on campus housing and meal plans. Understand that you are a student and do not need to live a lavish lifestyle. Save a little by using your student ID for discounts at numerous retailers. Check out the College Financial Workbook for a full list of retailers who offer a student discount. 10.Find A Bank That Gives Benefits To StudentsThe bank account you have at the moment may be fine for now, but it’s probably not the best one for when you move to student digs. Don’t be afraid to shop around and get the best account for you.Many banks want to get your custom, and will offer deals for students. Take advantage now before you start classes.
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