All around the country, newly-minted high school graduates are heading off to college. They’ll be taking a lot of things with them, but financial literacy is not likely to be one of them.
If I could spend a little time with these awesome students, this is what I would attempt to cram into their heads, then pray that it penetrates their hearts:
A BUDGET IS YOUR FRIEND
That means you 1) have a written plan for how you are going to spend your money 2) you use that written plan like you would a road map, consulting it often and 3) you use a site like Mint.com or a pencil and paper to record how you spend every nickel. Sallie Mae has a monthly budget worksheet you can print out to help you estimate your costs and keep expenses under control. Do not attempt to do this “keeping track” thing in your head. You are amazing, but don’t push it 🙂
GET A FREE CHECKING ACCOUNT
It’s not easy these days to find free checking accounts with no strings attached—no monthly fee, no minimum balance requirement and no minimum deposit. But many banks such as US Bank, do offer free student accounts that fit this criterion. Explore banking options in the city where you will be attending school or find out if the bank or credit union that your parents already use offers free student accounts and has a branch near the college campus. Read more