Today’s post is from Squirrelers, a personal finance blog about squirreling your money away! This post is part of the Yakezie Blog Swap, and you can read my post about Working is Essential for College Freshmen at Squirrelers.
Freshman year of college is a huge step in the lives of many young people. Aside from academic work getting more challenging, it’s a time where people grow up. Individual freedom is often increased significantly, particularly if a student is away from home for the first time. Personal responsibility is often tested, as that freedom leads to opportunities to make choices for better or worse. For many people, it’s simply a time a great fun.
Ah yes, having fun. It’s an important part of life, right? We live for purpose, we live to survive, but we also want to enjoy our days. Every day is a gift to be enjoyed. When it comes to freshman year of college, it’s a gift that’s often really enjoyed. Personally, I smile the second I recollect my first year of college. Great times and great memories, that for some reason seem to get better each year I get older!
There’s no question that fun is a part of the college experience for many people, and freshman year is when it all starts. That being said, this is also a time when young people independently build the foundation of their lives. A big part of that foundation is one’s career, which plays a big role in the financial future of the college kid as he or she eventually moves into adulthood.
So, to that end, my best freshman year tip is to balance living in the moment with thinking long-term. With respect to the latter, we of course know about personal safety and health. However, as a personal finance blogger, I’m thinking about their finances. Balance short-term thinking with a long-term view of money!
In terms of behaviors that can help a freshman make money decisions in the best interest of the long-term, I suggest the following tips for freshman:
Freshman Year Tip: Paying Back Student Loans
As a college freshman, it’s not likely that you’re immediately able to make a good hourly wage. Think about how many hours you would have to work in order to pay back your loans. For example, with a generous $10 per hour wage, and $50,000 in loans, you would have to work 5,000 hours to pay back what you owe. That’s before taking out any expenses.
Wouldn’t that stink to take out all those loans and then not be able to pay them back? Worse, you’ll keep spending money and dig yourself into a bigger hole!
To alleviate that, get good grades, network, and do what it takes to get a job upon graduation. In a competitive market, you’ll need to do your best to stand out in the crowd. Even if you think you’ll eventually go to graduate school, you’ll need to be able to get into graduate school in the first place, right? Those grades matter.
All in all, when you think that you will be on the hook for loans, it makes sense to do everything you can to avoid getting stuck living to pay those than loaned you money. Debt stinks.
What if you’re not taking on loans? What if you have a scholarship, or your parents are paying for everything? Well, you still need to think long-term. While your immediate needs aren’t as dire, your long-term future is still impacted by the choices you make in college. If you ever want to have a certain career, or live a certain lifestyle, now is the time to begin making it happen. Nobody will hand things to you, at least not that often anyway. Think long-term and prepare for your future. Give serious thought to what you want to do, take your grades seriously, and look to grow as a person.
One more bit of advice I’d give about thinking long-term when it comes to money: be very, very careful with credit cards. Used properly, and paid off in full on time every month, they can help establish your credit. However, if you make mistakes, you can negatively impact your credit. That can hurt you as you get older. Also, if you take on credit card debt, it won’t go away. It can snowball into a big problem if it accumulates, and that can happen quickly. Think long-term by being responsible with your spending.
Overall, I think it’s important to go back to the notion that balance is important. Have fun, enjoy this stage of life. It doesn’t come back to you ever again, in that exact way. But do it responsibly, because it does cost money, you aren’t entitled to it, and what you do during your undergraduate college career can play a big role in the direction of the rest of your life.
Robert’s thoughts: You’re definitely not entitled to a college education and it does cost money. Can you afford it? It is a loan against your personal earnings in the future. However, it is important to have fun and live it up! So, readers, what are your thoughts about balancing the expense of college with fun?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.