1. Set up a budget. Review your available cash including gift money, financial aid, summer job savings, and money from parents. You may want to designate some types of money for specific uses.
    • For instance: Think of student loans as an investment in your education and your future. Use student loan funds only to pay for school expenses like tuition and books.
    • Use money from home for things like groceries and phone bills.
    • Give yourself an allowance. Track your spending to find where your money goes and then choose between your wants and real needs.
    • Budget for a month at a time but set aside some time to review your finances each week.
    • If you exceed your budget, review and adjust as necessary. Just because you exceed your budget one month does not mean it can’t be fixed.
  2. Be frugal. Going to the movies, riding the bus, or even ordering pizza might cost less if you show your ID. Check travel fees for student discounts on bus and other commercial transit services as well as discounts when you need to travel by air.
  3. Stay financially secure by using caution.
    • Don’t give anyone your Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers unless you know why they need them.
    • Never give your PIN numbers to anyone!
    • Don’t leave bill payment envelopes at your mailbox. Drop them in a postal mailbox.
    • Don’t leave paperwork out at home where personal or account information is visible. It is very simple for a visitor to steal or memorize that information.
    • Review credit card statements, bank statements, phone bills, etc., for unauthorized use.
    • Avoid scholarship scams. Real scholarship searches never charge fees and applications are available and free to everyone.
  4. Keep only one major credit card and use it sparingly. Set your own credit limit and do not charge more than you can comfortably afford to pay. Just because you have a $2000 limit does not mean you have to spend that much. Pay your bill in full each month thereby avoiding interest charges. Pay cash when you can or use a debit card.
  5. Balance your bank statement frequently. This way you will know how much money you have and avoid bounced check charges and overdraft fees.
  6. Build an emergency fund. Deposit an amount from paychecks into a savings account when you cash your check.
  7. Get a money calendar. Any calendar with big blocks with room to write in amounts will do. Use the calendar windows to note:
    • Due dates for college bills. Paying your college bills on time helps you avoid late charges and having holds placed on your University records. Having to pay late charges is simply a waste of your money.
    • Due dates for other bills (rent, phone, electric, etc.)
    • Financial aid deadlines including dates for scholarship applications. Missing an application deadline is the most common mistake students make in the financial aid process. Make sure you apply for financial aid every year you are in college.
    • Upcoming activities where you will need cash (movies, dances, parties, etc).
  8. Buy books when you need them. Purchase used books or rent books when possible. Compare online prices with those at campus bookstore. Check bulletin boards and school newspapers as well as used bookstores and online used booksellers.
  9. If you borrow an unsubsidized student loan (federal or private), pay the interest when billed by the loan company. This will save you money when you begin to repay your loan after graduation.
  10. Check with your academic department about possible scholarship opportunities. Some may not be a possibility until later in your college career but at least you will know what opportunities there are.
  11. Make your roommate a part of your financial plan. If you can, contact your roommate before the semester starts and decide who will bring what to campus and how you will divide expenses.
  12. Talk with your parents about what they will pay for. Find out what you can count on from them and what expenses you will be responsible for handling.
  13. Ask for help when you need it. If you run into financial problems, call home and let your parents know you are in trouble. If an unexpected event changes your home financial situation talk with the financial aid office. There may be a way to obtain additional financial help because of these circumstances.