Millions of college students around the world are working hard towards creating a better future. These students are learning as much as they can now so that, when they graduate, they can make a positive impact on the world. They are the future.
However, while these students are singularly devoted to their chosen studies, they often miss out on life lessons that are available right before their noses – especially when it comes to finances. Many students graduate with worse financial habits than before they started school.
Here are just a few bad financial habits you should avoid while in college:
1. Eating in the dining hall – for every meal.
We know that college life is super busy and stressful. After studying for a big test all day, the last thing you want to think about is what you’re going to make for dinner. So it’s ok to eat at the dining hall every once in a while. But if you start relying on eating out for every meal in college, you’ll likely continue those habits after college as well. This can be an expensive lifestyle, and you could end up overspending on dining out each week and hurt your budget. If you max out your credit card with dining out bills, your high credit usage will hurt your credit score.
2. Stretching deadlines.
In college, if an emergency comes up and you can’t make your deadline, you can often explain the situation to your professor, and he’ll work with you to get the assignment in at a reasonable time. Professors want their students to succeed, so they’ll often go a little easy on them if they feel like it’s needed. Debt creditors may not be so kind. Even if an emergency comes up at the last minute, they still want their money paid on time and in full. Or if you miss a credit card payment, your credit score will get dinged and you’ll get charged interest.
Create good habits now by turning your assignments in on time and paying your bills before they’re due.
3. Not looking at the big picture.
When you’re in college, it’s hard to look past the current assignment. It’s hard to even see past the current semester. You’re so wrapped up in what is happening today, that it’s hard to think about what you’re doing tomorrow. If you live that way financially after college, it’ll be hard to save for the future when you’re so focused on today.
College students who generally get better grades in college have a vision of what they’d like their lives to be like after college. That goes the same for financial planning as well. People generally make better financial decisions if they have a goal they’re working towards. In college, your ultimate goal is to earn a degree and get a good job. In finances, your ultimate goal is to gain financial freedom. If you look past today, you can plan for tomorrow.
If you need help determining what your financial goals are, check out our financial education program, FinStrong. FinStrong can help you identify what you value most and make financial decisions tailored to your values.
The decisions you make in college will affect the rest of your lives. From the degree you choose to the choice between eating out or dining in, you’re creating your future. So decide today to be wise about your finances, study hard, and make the most of every minute.