Take Control of Your Finances, or Else!

by Guest Contributor · 6 comments

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.

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  • Jonny Debt says:

    Finding a mentor is an very good suggestion. I have personally done this with a couple of online debt and personal finance bloggers after being inspired by reading their blogs. The tips and information they provided have really helped me to improve my financial circumstances.

  • Mel says:

    Jon, I totally agree on automating one’s obligations with one caveat. That girl’s bills are now out of sight, out of mind. One has to be diligent in their everyday life to daily monitor their budget and spending.

  • Jonathan says:

    Totally agree about automating as many of your finances as possible. Once you’ve done it, you can then save time and energy and worry trying to remember whether you’ve paid a key bill. It also ensures that you never get into arrears!

  • Pam at MoneyTrail says:

    Becoming aware that you (and you alone) are responsible for your money management is quite an awakening. I love your advice about getting a mentor. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Jean says:

    Wise words for sure Jon. Many people lack the reality check till they are in trouble and then they realize their foolish financial ways till that point. Certainly automation is a huge help like you said but being involved and aware of what’s going on is also very important. Budgeting is something that starts from the time one is old enough to start carrying pocket expenses as a kid. Do I buy a candy now or start saving to buy that toy car I’ve been wanting? Now it is do I blow my earnings on a parties and clubs or do I start saving for college, a house, etc.?


  • B. Pierre says:

    Don’t too much agree on automated bill payments because that takes to much control out a person’s hand. With automated bill pay, you have to pay extra attention to your account. When not knowing how much is coming out of your account because your not mindful to check due dates or amounts due per bill. You’d need to be a pretty organized and responsible person to do that.

    You’ve got to train yourself first in making the payments so you can get a good idea of when bills are due and how much each bill is per month. Then consider transitioning to automated bill pay once you’ve got a good grip on managing your bills yourself.

    In my opinion, the first focus of any one trying to get their finances right is to budget.

    And I will say I agree about the comments regarding college not teaching youth a thing about personal finance. What I know now, I wish I knew before I set foot into my first class. The school has an agenda and I’ll tell you, it’s not to have you leave financially literate. Well, unless you’re a finance major. Lol

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