This is a guest post by Jon. Though these financial tips will work for just about anyone, this is a special message for all the college students out there.
I know, that title sounds quite ominous doesn’t it? Well, that was the point! If you’re about to start college, you need to perform a reality check. Where do you stand with your finances? Have you even thought about creating a cash cushion? Chances are you probably haven’t.
And don’t assume that you’ll learn personal finance and money management skills in college. Here’s another reality check: college professors could care less about your financial success. College is about knowledge and learning, not about practical skills that have a huge impact on your day to day life. Don’t rely on others to teach you how to budget or save money. Start now before it’s too late.
So, if no one is going to help you learn about personal finance, who will? The answer is YOU and only YOU. Every ounce of responsibility falls on your shoulders now. Mom and Dad are no longer around to hold your hand through life. It’s “go time” and the race is on.
Now that you understand the severity of the situation, I’m going to share with you some tips that will help you on this quest for financial knowledge.
1- Automate, Automate, Automate
This is huge for a college student. I remember when I was in school, I barely had time for managing money. With finals, studying, fraternity events, the gym, flag football and endless list of activities, I didn’t have much time left over to manage my money. This is why it’s critical that you automate a majority of your finances. Everything from automatic savings to automatic bill pay should be setup. There is no excuse for late payments or saying you don’t have the tools to save money. These opportunities are in front of you, you just need to take them.
2- Budget and Track Your Spending
Tracking where your money goes is critical to a successful personal finance life. Because of technology, this is extremely easy to do. Tools like Mint.com exist now and even smart phones have the ability to sync up and track budgets and spending patterns. The tools are at your disposal. No longer are the days of ignorance. If someone doesn’t get their finances in ordered, it’s out of laziness. Harsh? Yes. But I bet if college students managed their finances and took control, they would be much better off and graduating with much less debt.
3- Find a Mentor
Not just any mentor, but someone who has a track record of successful financial decisions. This should be someone older than you who has been around the block a few times. This could be a parent or someone who is working full time and living on their own. To be the best, learn from the best. Here’s the deal, don’t ask your close friends for personal finance advice. Chances are they’re not thinking about money management yet. You will need to pave your own path and seek someone out. Who knows, your friends might start asking you what you’re doing. Take it as an opportunity to help them take charge of their finances as well.
Ready, Set, Go!
I’m not going to end this on a negative note. Quite the contrary! Now that you have some tools and guidance in the right direction, you are equipped to go out and make strong financial decisions. Take hold of your finances and don’t rely on others. Ignore the other students around you in college and pave your own way.
Your financial destiny awaits!
This is a guest article by Jon the Saver, a personal finance blogger at Free Money Wisdom. His mission is to spread financial wisdom and help people get their financial lives under control. In his down time he loves a mean game of Scrabble and spending quality time with his fiancee.