Thursday, August 7, 2008

the other Broke Grad Student

Yes, it's that time of year. The leaves and the mercury is falling- somewhere. It may still be 80 degrees here, but colleges are gearing up for that new freshman class that will be coming in the next couple weeks.

So, here is my list of five personal finance tips for the new college student:

5. Pretend free credit card offers have syphilis
You wouldn’t sleep with the party skank that routinely visits the free clinic, and you shouldn’t give your finances a venereal disease either.
If you do not already have a credit card and want one, go to and find yourself the best no annual-fee, low APR (if you carry a balance, which you shouldn’t, but in case it ever was to happen…) credit card that gives you some cash-back rewards. If you already have one, check out its terms and make sure it’s up to these standards.
People who give you a free credit card and a water bottle aren’t giving out the quality credit cards; they’re giving out the skanky ones who are easy on the eyes, but not on the wallet.

4. Make sure your banking institutions have a branch local to your college.
If not, you’ll be racking up fees to use other banks' ATMs. Open a new account at a local bank or see if there is a place that won’t charge you to use their ATM (for instance my campus had a national credit union ATM which I could use for free).

3. Keep your financial information secure from your roommates.
If you get lucky like me, you’ll have an ex-stripper with a convicted felon boyfriend as your first roommate. For me, it was only logically that I would protect my financial information with passwords on my computer, a mini-safe for extra cash and my wallet when I was out partying, not bringing my SS card, and having my physical statements go to my parent’s house (since I could view mine online).
Or you could be like my husband and have great pals as roommates. However, one of these pals was quite the belligerent drunk, and actually stole and used the third roommate’s credit card. Due to privacy laws, my husband had no knowledge of this occurrence until after that same pal stole his computer. What a pal.

2. Start contributing to your ROTH IRA now.
Why plan for retirement now? It's called compound interest- invest a little now and because you have years to invest the money it will grow much larger than if you wait 10 years to start investing. Never heard of this? See this Get Rich Slowly blog about the topic and this use the calculator at Young Money.
Even if it’s only a couple hundred bucks, like I did, doing this early in my undergraduate career inspired me to try and put more in the next year. While you maybe only earning $6.75 at the bookstore, putting 10% of your paycheck into a long term account will help keep you money conscious for years to come.

1. Organize your personal finances before you go off to college.
If you’re anything like me, all you may have is a savings and checking account at the local credit union and may see this step as worthless. However, realize in the next few years your monetary situation will drastically change. You need to have already started your good money habits before you’re making a lot of dough and are tempted to spend it.

What are your tips for the freshman class?


Anonymous said...

I'm so broke I can't even afford grad school.

Broke Grad Student said...

Great tips! Thanks for participating in our back to school giveaway. Good luck!

Personal Finance Newsletter said...

Sarcastic but nevertheless very very true! Funny too. As our youngsters unknowingly fall in to bad credit because they don't have a clue about personal finance planning, I am glad there are others like you who are willing to enlighten them. Cheers!

chichichi said...

Find a good financial institute or bank charge low rates will help your budget