Co-eds Guide to the Financial Galaxy

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By Angelina Jennifer

For many college students out there, entering into the “real world” can prove to be overwhelming!

 
Not only are you confronted with a whole new course load but now you’re expected to be in charge of bills, housing costs, and a plethora of other financial responsibilities. In my experience, it’s like being thrown into a pool of cold water head first! After the headache subsides you might need some clarity and guidance regarding which obligations to address first. Here are some suggestions to get you on the right track to financial freedom.
 

Comprehending Credit Cards

 
It’s undeniable that credit cards have revolutionized the way we approach spending. Rather than pay for products with cash, and immediately feel the impact on our wallets, we have developed a dependence on plastic. This phenomenon is due largely to the influence and power of the big credit card companies. In the last decade, they have even readjusted their advertising tactics to target college students. Why?
Because in general they’re more inexperienced with handling money and tend to be easily manipulated into signing up for credit traps. Credit card reps even make appearances on college campuses where they lure in students by offering freebies and promotions. Although it can be tempting, it’s very important to do your homework and research the different cards available before you apply for one. Go over the interest rates and rewards with a fine toothed comb. If you’ve already fallen prey to credit card debt consider getting help from a professional organization. ConsolidatedCredit.org can help you sort out the minutia and navigate through the credit card jungle.
 

Student Loans

 
Student loans can seem like a scary pit of debt but they don’t have to be. If you’ve explored all your other options and have to resort to taking out student loans keep the following suggestions in mind. The first step in the process is to fill out a FAFSA form. The FAFSA form is a free application for Federal Student Aid. It will lay out all your options in terms of financing and borrowing money. You may be eligible to receive money purely because of your race, so make sure to apply early. Most schools also permit students to become resident assistants. Being an RA is a great way to save money on your tuition and even get free housing.
 

College Textbooks

 
“College textbook prices have increased faster than tuition, health care costs, and housing prices,” according to a recent article by the Huffington Post. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to spend $200-$300 on a single textbook. I personally spent $350 on an accounting textbook which I used for one semester. That textbook is now sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust. Instead of paying top dollar for your books, explore these alternatives:
· Purchase used books or rent them. Obviously used books are going to be a lot less expensive than new. Call up local used book stores to see if they have the ones you need in stock or see if they offer a rental program.
· Avoid the university book store at all costs! Although it’s convenient to find your books there, it will put a serious dent in your wallet. Expect to pay double and even triple for the same book you can find online.
· Ask friends, family, and classmates.
 

Dining

 
Trying to avoid the notorious freshman fifteen can be a doozy. Your best bet is to create a meal plan with healthy food choices. Check out Thomas Frank’s advice for staying healthy on a budget.
 

Free Time

 
Seek inexpensive activities to have fun on your free time. Club, bars, and restaurants can get expensive so try to frequent venues who offer student discounts and college promotions. That’s also a great way to meet people who attend the same school and share similar interests.
No one said college was easy so stick to these basics and you’ll be a step ahead of your classmates. Stay alert and on top of your finances including credit cards, loans, and regular college expenses. .

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