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Top Money Saving Tips for College Freshmen

Save Money and Reduce Stress With These Financially Sound Strategies

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Making the transition from high school student to college student can be confusing. There are a lot of changes and many new responsibilities. Adapting to college is full of life lessons and the biggest lesson involves handling money.

Living at Home Is Easy

When teens live at home there are many financial decisions that they never have to make. Parents worry about how much to spend on housing, food, bills, clothes and entertainment. These things never have to cross the high school students mind.

In college teens suddenly have to handle these things on their own. If you spend money recklessly you will quickly find yourself tapped.

Smart money saving tactics can make a major impact on your finances and your future. Here are some tips and ideas to make your financial transition that much easier.

Know Your Cost of Living

Make a list of your mandatory monthly expenses so you understand where your money has to go. Things like, rent, utilities, transportation, groceries, parking, school supplies, debt repayment, and student or activity fees fall in this category. Once you know where your money has to go each month you'll be able to set up a discretionary fund and a savings plan.

Give Yourself an Allowance

Put yourself on an allowance for things like entertainment, eating out, clothing, and special purchases. Stay on budget no matter how tight things get. It's never too early to start saving money. Even if it's only $20 a week try to put something aside in a savings account.

Organize Your Receipts

Keep your bills, bank statements and receipts all in one place. Organize them by month and by category, for example; rent, bills, and expenses. Keep them in a safe place. Make sure to go over your bank statements carefully and keep all ATM receipts. Have your bank return cashed checks to you or at least ensure that you can see copies of all cashed checks online.

Become Frugal

Look for creative ways to save money. Consider carpooling, public transit or enviro-friendly biking as a means of getting around. Bring lunches and snacks from home. Buy your text books and lab supplies second hand if possible. Instead of paying a tutor set up a peer study group in classes that you need extra help with.

Understand Your Debt Load

Student loans aside there are other ways that students get in to debt. Credit card companies target cash strapped students, most of whom are inexperienced with unsecured debt.

When handled responsibly credit cards can be good things to have. If you do any shopping on the Internet you will probably need to have a credit card. Many credit card companies offer theft and fraud protection. Read the fine print of your credit card agreement to find out if you’re covered for these things.

It's a good idea to have a credit card for emergencies or for major purchases like books or a bike but avoid using plastic for day-to-day spending or for entertainment.

Watch Out for Identity Theft

You are never too young to fall victim to identity theft. In fact, young people with little or no credit history are good targets. Keep your personal information well guarded.

Limit the information you post in your profiles on the Internet to first name and last initial, gender and general area of residence. Social networking sites have become havens for people looking to steal identities.

Never leave ATM or debit receipts behind, always take them with you. Keep your credit card numbers private and only use them on web sites you know you can trust. Always shield your personal identity number (PIN) from prying eyes.

Follow these guidelines and you'll be in good financial shape now and in the future.

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