Handling money at college is a huge responsibility. To keep you from learning the hard way, we asked these students from North Park University in Chicago for their best advice.
Robert Bean, sophomore
"It's really helpful to write down everything you're spending money on for about a month. This helps you realize what you're buying that you don't really need. Then you can just spend money on the things you do need and save the rest. That doesn't mean you can't have fun. But once you realize you're spending a lot of money on junk, it will help you save for the things you really want."
Kendra Wiggins, junior
"Don't spend all your money on eating out when you don't have to. It's really easy to do that when you're in college because you can get tired of the cafeteria. But be cautious about splurging. Use your meal plan. Also, you can have fun with your friends without spending a lot of money. Schools have tons of activities that are free or that don't cost much."
Sherna Graham, senior
"College has taught me money does run out. So I have to plan my spending. Like when my friends and I want to do something that costs money, I might need to say 'Not this paycheck, but next,' or 'Let's put aside some money so we can do that next month.'"
Mike Rice, junior
"Handling money is kind of hard in college. You have to learn to budget according to your needs, not your wants. I've had to learn this the hard way because my money usually goes first for the things I want. But when I found out how much books cost, I knew that had to change."
Kristi Lach, sophomore
"I have to be cautious with my credit card. I haven't had a real problem with it, but the temptation to overuse it is constantly there. It's hard because it seems like I always want something, and with a credit card, I can get it. But I have loans for school, and when I graduate I'm going to have to start paying them off. I don't want to have to pay off credit card debt, too."
Steven Hoden, senior
"Balance your checkbook. That sounds simple, but just knowing how much you have puts things into perspective. When you lose track, that's when you begin to rationalize your three trips to McDonald's in one week. You think it's no big deal, but it adds up."
Meredith Berg, senior
"It's good to err on the side of caution. I did that a lot my freshman year—I wouldn't spend a lot of money on things I wanted to make sure I had enough for the things I really needed. When I found myself being too tight with my money, I would allow myself to spend more on fun things."