Financial Mistakes I Made During College
When I was going to college I made some big financial mistakes that wasted my time and money. I want to share them so hopefully, a current college student reads them and avoids them
1. I signed up for a credit card without a steady income. I forget exactly what was the small prize for signing up, but I remember getting my credit card to get something free. It had a high credit limit and the company kept raising it every few months. Going back, I would've not gotten the card.
My second credit card was a better choice. I received it through my credit union and it had a low limit. The interest rate was relatively low too. I should have just chosen that card first and focused on handling my budget better. Take the time to research cards and rates before making a flip decision.
2. I used the above mentioned credit card recklessly. I used my credit card for eating out, games,whatever I wanted to get to feel better about being a broke college student. Many of things I bought I don't even own anymore either because they are broken or i got bored and sold them, so that was a waste of money.
I should have left my card at home most days to keep myself from charging too much on it.
3. I 'helped' my family by paying bills with my credit card. I'd spend a couple hundred on groceries, which definitely was appreciated, but it was with money I didn't have. I'd also buy gifts for my family, thinking I could pay the card off slowly.
I should have been honest with myself and with my family and kept to a budget. Perhaps I should have made homemade gifts instead. My favorite memories with my family usually involve activities that didn't really cost much, not some mp3 player or video game.
4. I paid the minimum due and thought I was doing fine with my personal finance decisions. As I started working while attending school, my small paychecks were even smaller since I had to pay my credit card bills. I told myself that I had everything under control since I could make my minimum payments.
I should have asked 'Can I afford it?' vs 'Can I afford the payments?'. If I focused on needs and not wants, I wouldn't have had credit card debt.
5. I ate out way too much for my small budget. I really have no excuse for my first years, since I lived about 15 minutes away from the cafeteria by foot. While grabbing a fast food or a sit down restaurant lunch with classmates would've been fine once in a blue moon, eating at home or just bringing lunch with me would've reduced my expenses. I also would have cut down on what I mindlessly charge to my credit cards.
I needed to talk my friends into eating in the cafeteria for a cheaper lunch instead of going out all the time.
6. I didn't save my tuition refunds. For my first few years in college, I received a refund. I spent it on buying things or paying down my credit cards (which I ran up during the next semester).
Instead, I should have set aside some money for an emergency fund, especially since I had an an older car that needed work.
Fortunately, due to my schedule, I began spending more time with my grandmother. With her help, I learned to break some of my bad financial habits by doing things the old school way, like saving before buying and resisting impulsive decisions. She lived a debt free life and was generous with what she had. I'm grateful for her life lessons.
I'm now out of credit card debt and we have no car loans. The next challenge is to pay off the student loans.