Money Mgmt. 101: Helping College Students Face Financial Fears

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InCharge® Institute and YOUNG MONEY® magazine offer the truth behind some common fears to help students prepare for the often expensive road ahead.

It is no surprise that college costs are skyrocketing. Tuition at the average four-year public university has increased by 40 percent since 2001 -- according to a new report by The Campaign for America’s Future -- leaving the average student with a debt of almost $20,000 in loans upon graduation. However, with proper money management and budgeting, that degree should not be out of reach.

InCharge® Institute of America, Inc., a national non-profit organization specializing in personal finance education and credit counseling, and publisher of YOUNG MONEY magazine, has compiled a list of common financial fears among college students.

With the help of Todd Romer, Executive Director of YOUNG MONEY and expert on personal finance issues for young adults, the team offers smart advice for the long and expensive road ahead.

“One of the toughest challenges for many students is finding a way to pay for school and living expenses, without relying solely on credit cards,” says Romer. “Smart money management consists of simply making sure you’re not spending more than you’re bringing in.” Easier said than done? “No fear,” adds Romer. “When armed with the proper money management tools and a few creative money-making ideas, a sound financial plan is not out of reach.”

The following tips are from http://www.youngmoney.com, and this month’s issue of YOUNG MONEY magazine, set to hit college campuses nationwide on September 6.

FEAR: How can I possibly get a job when I have so much schoolwork? Maybe I should just put everything on a credit card, and I can pay it back when I have the available funds.

REALITY: There is no denying that schoolwork is time-consuming, but with a little creativity, there are plenty of ways to secure a part-time job that can help offset your school costs and allow you to focus on your studies, without relying on that high interest credit card. Education majors: try your hand at babysitting; Pet-lovers: Start up a weekend or early morning pet walking service. Love to shop? How about becoming a personal assistant or personal shopper? “Entrepreneurship is key when you’re in college,” says Romer. “If you’re willing to get a little creative, there are part-time jobs to be found everywhere you look.”

FEAR: I CAN’T get a job; I don’t even have car.

REALITY: Whoever said you had to leave campus to make money? For college students living away from home, there are plenty of money-making opportunities to be found right at school. Check in with your career center, or watch for postings in the school newspaper. Opportunities often arise for teacher's assistants, campus tour guides, or in the alumni call center. “One benefit of working on campus is that your boss may be more sympathetic when you need to take an extra day off for final exams or spring break, not to mention the immediate savings from lack of transportation.”

FEAR: Forget spending cash; I have so many loans to pay off. How am I supposed to find a job that can help me pay for school immediately?

REALITY: The Federal Work-Study Program was created specifically for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing you to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to your course of study, and you'll earn at least the current federal minimum wage. If you're thinking about this type of job, it's crucial that you check the box on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stating that you're interested in work-study - otherwise you won't be considered for eligibility. For more information, visit http://www.studentaid.ed.gov.

FEAR: I really don’t want to be stuck in a boring retail job or behind a fast food counter, but aren’t those the only jobs that will hire me without a degree?

REALITY: Actually, being a student is the perfect time to gain real world experience. “Target companies that will give you the opportunity to use your education, such as interning for a local engineering or law firm, where you may start out by performing entry-level work, but you’ll be rewarded with a paycheck or college credits.”

“Leveraging your educational experience early on to build your résumé and gain on-the-job experience makes you more valuable to potential employers -- and puts you in a better bargaining position to stretch for higher salaries,” says YOUNG MONEY magazine. “Not to mention, these jobs allow you to build your list of references, work experience and possibly open the door to a full-time job in the same company.”

As important as it is to make money during college, it’s equally important to pay attention to how you spend it. The average college student graduates with over $2,000 in credit card debt, so the earlier they learn not to rely on that plastic and instead turn to cold hard cash, the better position they will be in for the long run.

Some additional money management tips from this month’s issue of YOUNG MONEY magazine:

•Track your purchases and put together a spending plan. Always make sure your spending is less than or equal to your income. If you’re spending more than you’re bringing home, make adjustments to your spending plan by reviewing your spending categories.

•Once you know where your money is going, it's easy to find ways to make small adjustments that really add up. Look at discretionary areas of spending first. Spending for items such as eating out, lunches, entertainment, clothing, personal items, etc., can often be reduced. If you cut a little in each area, you likely won't feel the pinch and still make a difference in the big picture.

•Shop around for the best rates on car insurance, cable or satellite package and lower rates for long distance service or Internet access. Switch to a lower cost cellular phone plan and take advantage of student discounts whenever possible.

YOUNG MONEY’s articles are written by college students for college students. The magazine’s content addresses the financial concerns specific to this age group. YOUNG MONEY covers a variety of money-related matters including: saving/investing, credit cards, career choices and entrepreneurship. To learn more, or to request a free subscription to the magazine, visit http://www.youngmoney.com.

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, InCharge® Institute of America, Inc. is a national nonprofit organization with affiliates specializing in personal finance education and credit counseling. InCharge® Education Foundation, Inc. publishes YOUNG MONEY® magazine and Military Money™ magazine and offers basic financial management education to clients and the general public. InCharge® Debt Solutions provides professional credit counseling and financial education services to consumers and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). For additional information, visit http://www.incharge.org.

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