Before You Start School: 12 tips

Either you’ve enrolled for school, or you’re thinking about it. In either case, you have questions. Here are twelve things you should at least be considering, if not already planning for.

  1. Start saving
    • It’s never too early to start saving. Conversely, it’s hardly ever too late either. $10/month or $10/day, whatever your budget allows for. By starting a savings fund before you start your career, you are able to add more into 401k options with your employer. And, it’s puts you one step ahead in the game of life.
  2. Track your spending
    • No matter how much your income is, you should know exactly how it is working for you. Where you are spending it should not really be a question! Start a budget and stick to it. Keep up with your receipts to review your transaction logs at the end of each month (and fiscally).
  3. Set a limit on entertainment
    • We all like to go out and have a good time, but, trying to party 8 days a week just isn’t financially responsible for most people working and trying to go to school. There will be classmates around that have these habits, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. They may have parents with deep pockets, or just on their own road to financial ruin.
  4. Shop second-hand
    • Books, clothes, bicycles, there are plenty of option for second-hand merchandise. This will always be a cheaper alternative (especially for name brands!). There are also outlet stores that have marked discounts. Don’t waste money where you don’t have to. If there is a cheaper alternative, why not take it?
  5. Look for scholarships (free money)
    • Scholarships are everywhere! They can be based on g.p.a., community service, extracurricular activities, course study, heritage, etc. And many of them go unearned each year. Don’t “find out later” that you could have qualified for a scholarship that would have paid for your books, or room & board.
  6. Look for student discounts
    • Use your Student ID! Almost everywhere in & around campus will have a discount for students. Even movie theaters have a student price. Take full advantage of every opportunity that being a students offers you. Remember, it never hurts to ask!
  7. Get a part-time job with tips
    • If you are able to, get a part-time job while in school. Most restaurant jobs (and some other fields) offer jobs that pay partly in tips. It’s nice to be able to have some cash on hand, and not have to use your credit cards to go out with. Try putting your check “direct deposit” into your checking account.
  8. Walk or ride a bike – don’t drive!
    • Cars (automobiles in general) are quite a luxury, but come with great expense. Not only gas, insurance, & registration, what if you need repairs, or have to pay for parking? Vehicles can be a huge waste of hard-earned money for students. Although, sometimes there are very necessary, especially when commuting. Use Public transit when possible.
  9. Use Credit cards sparingly
    • Credit cards can seem like a “cure-all”, but don’t believe the hype. Credit card companies are only in it for a profit. If you are not fully educated in how credit cards work, or have not established a working budget, do not get mixed up with credit cards just yet. There’s plenty of time for that later.
  10. Pay balances in full
    • Any bills that you do incur, pay all balances in full each month! Having to pay interest is never good, but having to pay interest on a night out partying is down right foolish. Having a remaining balance only means that you are still paying for those items! Pay them in full each statement.
  11. Get the best deal on a checking account
    • Most banks will offer Free Student checking. This can be rather advantageous. But do your homework. All banks are not the same! Find a bank that you feel like they could be trusted will all of your future financial concerns. Don’t be afraid to check out Credit Unions, too.
  12. Avoid unnecessary expenses
    • Parking tickets, speeding tickets, late fees, overdraft fees, stop them ALL before they start! Always avoid paying unnecessary fees when possible. Make sure you return things on time, and that you have enough money for purchase against your bank account(s). And, DON’T waste money breaking the law. Thinking that you can beat a cop at his own game is downright foolish! Don’t do it.