11 Ways College Students Can Save for the Future
It's certainly understandable that college students don't have the time to learn about financial topics such as retirement and their children's post-high school education. Between class, homework, exams, work-study, internships, libraries, and socializing, there sometimes isn't even enough time to let Mom & Dad know how everything is going.
However, there are a number of financial areas that students can pay attention to and should keep in mind:
1)All gas is the same – No, your BMW or Lexus doesn't need Mobil or Exxon. Those high prices are to reimburse them for their advertising costs. Jack's Gas Shack provides your tank with the exact same vitamins & minerals. Also, only pump the higher octane if your car REQUIRES it. Otherwise, the cheaper stuff will work exactly the same.
2) Stick with store-brand goods – Target plastic bags are going to keep your pretzels in exactly the same shape as Ziploc. Stop & Shop skim milk lasts just as long as Hood.
3) Buy necessities in bulk – Face it; your need for razor blades and body wash isn't ending soon. Skip the 4 packs at the supermarket and find a friend with a Costco or Sam's Club card. eBay can also offer even better discounts (just make sure the items you buy are sealed).
4) Don't spend more than necessary on a computer – You can get a perfectly usable Dell laptop for under $600. Really. Don't let the Best Buy sales guy sucker you into dropping $1800. The “benefits” will only get you bragging rights for about three hours.
5) Keep credit card debt in check – The interest rates are insane and you'll soon get in over your head. Pay your student credit cards off ASAP or even borrow money from Mom & Dad to keep them down.
6) But if you do charge, get something in return – Whether it's miles, points, cash back, rewards, or whatever, don't get a card just because the color matches your bag. Check out StudentPlatinum.com for an excellent list.
7) Apply for as many scholarships as you can – There are hundreds of different ways you can get free money for college. Start with StudentScholarshipSearch.com and you can thank me later.
8) Sign up for an online savings account – You'll earn more interest and have online access to your money. Link it up with a local ATM'd bank and just use the latter for writing checks.
9) Tutor local high school students – I guarantee there's at least one subject you know better than a high schooler. Get your name out there and you can make up to $70/hour. No joke.
10) Student loan candidate? Fill out the FAFSA every year! – Federal loans are much easier to deal with than private loans. Completing the FAFSA will let you know which federal loans you're eligible for. Find more info at FAFSAOnline.com.
11) Get comfy with the Roth IRA – If you have some extra cash lying around, set up a Roth IRA with a local brokerage. You'll be able to buy stocks and mutual funds, and sell them off without having to worry about any taxes. Trust me. You'll be happy when your 60 and have the additional cash.
About the Author
Russ Ain is the Senior Editor for the Student Loan Network, which offers federal and private student loans for both undergraduate and graduate students. He lives in Cambridge, MA and likes spicy tuna.