Financial Tips for the First Year at College



Whether you’re enrolled in your first year of college, or on your way to college next fall, there is a lot of planning to be done. Every semester, you have to choose your class schedule, budget for food, books, and extras, and perhaps obtain a part-time job. At the top of your list should be something you may not have thought about yet: creating a financial plan. Heading into college is a great time to get a jump-start on creating and understanding your financial situation. But with so much information available, it can be overwhelming.

Start with the basics, so you can develop good habits early:

  • Consider opening a checking account at a bank close to campus, especially if you plan on taking cash from an ATM regularly. If you withdraw cash from another bank’s ATM, you will most likely incur a small fee, around $2 - $3.
  • Open a savings account. Build up a cash buffer that you can tap into if you have any big expenses coming up, such as a formal or a trip to see friends. Get in the habit of saving a set amount every month.
  • Once you build up a cash buffer to a point you’re comfortable with, consider putting money into an investment account. The earlier you start, the more advantageous it can be for your future.
  • Create a budget to manage your income and expenses. Fixed expenses include rent, phone bill, utilities, etc. Whatever is left over is what can be spent at your discretion.
  • Consider opening a credit card to build credit. Do not get carried away with promotions and open multiple cards. Start small with a few expenses, such as gas and groceries. Pay the complete balance every month, because if you only pay the minimum, you will be charged interest on the amount unpaid.
  • Check your credit score once a year. Your credit score will be checked later on when renting an apartment and buying a car.
  • Once you turn 18, consider signing basic estate documents, especially an advanced healthcare directive. This will allow your parents to be informed of your medical condition in case something happens.

Financial independence is the result of establishing financial goals early in life, consistently saving and investing, avoiding credit card debt, and planning for a happy retirement one day.

Disclosure: Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.
Investment advisory services offered through Quest Capital Management, Inc.
Quest Capital Management, Inc. is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. The information presented herein is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results and there is no assurance any of the trends mentioned will continue or forecasts will occur.