State Treasurer of Iowa

Tip from the Treasurer: Financial Tips for College-Bound Students

After the excitement of graduation and summer vacation wears off, college-bound students and their parents begin preparing for life’s next big adventure. For many young adults, this offers the first opportunity to manage money without the oversight of parents. These three tips will ensure students get the most from their new experiences without compromising the financial skills they learned at home:

  1. Make (and stick to) a budget: Some students work during school while others live off of the money they’ve earned during school breaks. In either case, it’s important to determine how much money can be spent throughout the month on essential and non-essential items. Set a realistic weekly goal and take advantage of various budgeting apps to stick to it. Free apps allow users to graphically identify where they spend their money and offer tips on how to reduce certain purchases.
  2. Understand credit cards: Many credit card companies entice college students by offering low introductory rates and minimum qualifications. While credit cards do help to build credit, it is important to understand how to take advantage of this benefit without taking on debt. For many, using a debit card is a great first alternative.
  3. Save money on books and food: College is expensive without the added cost of books and food. Most incoming students are unaware that the college bookstore is one of the most expensive places on campus. Many classes require books that can be accessed for free or a small fee online, while used books can be purchased on textbook websites or through a campus social media group. And although room and board fees include food, sometimes students grow tired of the cafeteria or student union. Take advantage of free barbecues and pizza parties offered by various campus clubs, and be sure to ask for a student discount at restaurants around campus.
 
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