As you get ready to go away to college for the first time, this is a good time to expand your knowledge of day-to-day money management, including smart budgeting and debt management steps. The Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants offers this tip to students for getting through college in the right financial frame of mind.
Avoid credit card debt.
College seniors with credit cards graduate with an average of $4,100 in credit card debt, according to the survey. The importance of budgeting is clear when you see the consequences of spending beyond your means. Many students use credit cards to stretch their spending money, but given the high interest rates involved, that can be a costly choice. For example, say you have a $4,100 credit card balance, on which you’re making a $200 monthly payment. At an 18 percent interest rate, it will take you 25 months to pay off that balance and it will cost you a whopping $836.27 in interest—money you could have spent on other purchases or put aside in savings. That debt is a big burden to carry, especially since so many graduates also have significant outstanding student loan debts. Debt can make it more difficult to find or afford your own place or to qualify for an auto or other loan. The best advice: If you’re going to reach for the plastic, make sure it’s a debit card. That way you will spend only what you have in your bank account now and avoid overextending yourself.
College is an exciting time that offers many new experiences, including managing your own money. For questions about financial topics, be sure to consult your local CPA. He or she can help you address all your important financial concerns.
For more money tips, visit www.KnowWhatCounts.org, where you can sign up for a free e-newsletter, try financial calculators or ask a CPA a question. Visit www.FindYourCPA.com for a free CPA referral and free 30-minute consultation.