There is any number of lessons we might take away from that first year in college — some of them good, some of them not so good. That first year away from home can be a real eye-opener as we begin our transition into the real world.
Personally, my first year of college was one of the greatest years of my life. I felt like a whole new person. It was a wonderful year of new beginnings and one during which I gained a variety of personal and financial lessons as well.
There are Plenty of Financial Temptations
From going out to eat, to hitting the bars, doing a little online shopping, throwing some parties, heading to the mall or whatever, there can be all sorts of financial temptations during college.
I still remember walking through campus and signing up for a credit card here to get a free t-shirt, a credit card there for a free t-shirt, and not really thinking anything about it. I remember buying items online with my credit cards without worrying about where the information was going or who was seeing it.
Thankfully,these temptations didn’t come back to bite me since I paid my bills on time and didn’t go overboard, but I can (and did) see some people having a problem with such opportunities for overly free spending.
Expense Tracking Can Pay off Over the Next Three or Four Years…and Longer
I began tracking expenses my freshman year of college and never looked back. Starting early in my college career gave me a starting point upon which to base future budgets and cost projections and expectations.
Moving on from my college career, I continued to track expenses throughout my early adulthood and into the present day. Doing so helps me find areas in which I can cut costs, ways in which I can save money, and gives me a better feel for where my money is going, how it is being used, and whether it’s being used as efficiently as it should be.
Stick to a Budget
At the end of my first year of college — due largely to my expense tracking — I could build a budget for the upcoming year. This was another lesson that I could take from my collegiate experience and apply to my future in the adult world. By building and adhering to a budget, I could form a more ridged financial regimen, something that many of my classmates (and even people I know now as an adult) seem to have trouble doing.
This budget kept my costs lower during school since I had guidelines to keep me on track and from overspending. I could gauge income as well and compare it to expenses to see where I was going, where I had been, and what steps financially I needed to take to stay on track.
Such steps included taking out student loans, keeping costs low, sharing expenses with roommates, getting a part-time job, living at home one summer while taking summer classes at a cheaper university, becoming summer house manager of my fraternity so that I could live there for free while working during the summer, and similar steps.
Students Have a Variety of Ways to Save at their Disposal
I realized that as a student, there were a variety of deals and discounts at my disposal. From making money reselling my books, to trading and bartering with classmates or foraging for leftover furniture and furnishings around campus, there were all sorts of ways that I could — and did — save money.
Then there were things like my good student discounts for car insurance, student discounts at the movie theater and at sporting events or the student bookstore, and a variety of discounts relating to stores, travel, and services, some of which helped me save money that first year at school and throughout my college career.
Disclaimer: The author is not a licensed financial or educational professional or academic advisor. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or educational advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.