If going to college meant you would one day be a millionaire, then 36% of American’s would be rich. Yet most college graduates are not partying in Beverly Hills and hanging out with celebrities day in and day out.
Financial Literacy often sounds boring. That’s ok, the term is lame.
You know what else is sucks? Student loan debt, mortgages, credit card debt, car loans… All debt in general. That’s why it’s pretty important you understand what you are getting into as soon as possible, ideally before you go to college.
You won’t make much money when you have to pay interest to creditors. And if you are taking out loans to go to college, that’s exactly what you are doing. Even if mom and dad are covering your expenses, chances are you will one day need to work for a living. Heck, even if you have a trust fund, you should learn how to protect your money.
So let’s focus on two simple to understand concepts: Saving money and making money.
Saving Money in College
Saving goes hand in hand with reducing. In other words, to save money you must reduce expenses. How do you do this? Well, the easiest way would be to lower your tuition bill. If you are not getting any financial aid, go to your college financial aid office and ask for some! You would be surprised how open people will be if you just ask.
At any point during your college career you should look at scholarships. Most colleges keep a list of scholarships. But you can use your trusted friend Google to find other ones.
Another way to save money is to consider graduating early or earning enough credits to skip a semester. Remember, in college you have fixed expenses, such as textbooks. For every class you have to buy the overpriced textbook.
Then you have semi-fixed expenses, such as room and board. You have to pay for them every semester you are there. So if you took one class every semester and needed 30 to graduate, you would complete all your classes in 15 years. That would be 30 semesters worth of room and board payments… which will no doubt be astronomical in 15 years time.
What isn’t fixed is the amount of classes you to take. If you can handle an extra class each semester you may be able to skip your last one, or the second-to-last one if you want to enjoy senior spring. Better yet, you can take intersession classes (during winter and summer) from your home, and save on room and board payments that way.
Lastly, look at reducing non-educational expenses, such as having a car on campus and cutting back on excessive partying. As much as we enjoy college partying, alcohol won’t cure any of your problems, whether emotional or financial.
Making Money in College
Making money in college can be a tricky endeavor. Since college now costs so much, a part time job at minimum wage won’t really move the needle. Unless you qualify for work study, which can sometimes pay higher.
You can also try to make money with a creative side hustle like selling textbooks or novelty items to your doormats, but you will probably run into the same problem: You won’t make much money.
While I’de advise anyone looking to start a YouTube channel in the hopes of becoming famous and rich to give it a shot, that too is no more than a pipe dream.
The best time for most college students to make money is during their summer vacation. That means saying no to unpaid internships, which are mostly a scam anyways. If you can start in high school and save up for college, all the better to you.
Positioning Yourself for Success
This article was pretty short. That’s because it’s just to supposed to pique your interest. The good news is that if you read through it, you probably have a better idea of core financial concepts than many of your peers. Congrats.
If you want to continue saving money, head over to
wall street bets. Just kidding, start with some established financial blogs, you can use Google to find them. When I was 21 and was in college, I opened a brokerage account and IRA, as well. Good luck!