Don’t you find it kind of funny when you hear high school students putting off learning about their finances because they think that’s what college is for? Just by talking to younger relatives and high school students in the community I have noticed that many assume they will learn how to handle their personal finances once they are in college. Unfortunately, I have taken many finance courses in college and none of them have taught me how to improve my spending habits or how much to put in an emergency fund. The truth of the matter is that if you want to learn about personal finance the responsibility is all yours.
Photo by stuartpilbrow via Flickr
Here a few things you could do as a college student to take responsibility for your financial situation.
It’s about time you put that iPhone or Blackberry to good use and keep track of where you spend all of your money. Tracking your expenses is hard for many of us. In fact, many people give up after a few weeks because they don’t want to accept the harsh reality of their financial situation. For me it was difficult to accept how much money I spent on food every month. The trick is to keep track of every penny that you spend so you can see where your money went at the end of the month, and see where you can improve.
It doesn’t matter if you earn $50 or $500 a week, you should make savings part of your finances. Also, you should make your savings automatic. Don’t let anything stop you from doing this. There may be some barriers — e.g., having too many monthly fixed costs, not being with the right bank, or just sheer laziness — but don’t let these stop you.
When you’re just starting out, the best place to keep your money is in a good bank that offers high interest rate.
Do not be a victim of information overload. Too many times have I seen a friend get all excited about personal finance, go to the library or even worse go to a local Chapter’s and head back home with many great books. On the surface it seems like a good plan, but what actually happens is that you won’t read any of those books. Best case scenario is that you read the books and end up confused after hearing so many different perspectives on the same topic.
Sure that doesn’t sound exciting at all. Who wants to spend their free time reading about retirement or frugality when there are so many great reality shows out there or Thirsty Thursday parties happening? But in the end, the responsibility is yours.