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How to Protect Your Financial Security When You’re a College Student

How to Protect Your Financial Security When You’re a College Student

When you’re in college, everyone wants to offer you a credit card. Over two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 have credit cards, according to the latest FICO statistics. Credit card ownership rises as students get older, with 43 percent of students aged 18 to 20 having cards, which rises to 63 percent for students 21 to 22 and 71 percent for students 23 to 24, according to a Sally Mae report. Overall, 56 percent of undergraduates use credit cards.

Having a credit card gives you more freedom to buy things, but it also exposes you to risks if you misuse your credit or if your identity gets stolen. Credit problems can affect your financial future, but with a little strategy and planning, you can build your credit while also protecting your finances while you’re in college.

How Your Finances Can Affect Your Future

If you want to buy a car or a home in the future, your ability to get financing will depend on your credit score. Your credit score is a measure of your ability to pay back money you borrow. It reflects your income, how well you manage money you borrow, and how reliable you are at repaying loans on time. Credit card companies, banks, car dealers, and mortgage lenders who are considering lending you money use your credit score to evaluate whether or not you’re a good risk. A high score makes you a better risk and more likely to receive a credit card or loan, while a low score makes you less likely to receive consideration.

Your score can go down if you borrow too much for your income level, if you spend too much of your credit limit, or if you don’t pay bills on time. It can also go down if someone steals your identity and spends money in your name. A bad credit score in college can keep you from getting credit cards, a car loan, or a mortgage loan after you graduate.

How to Build and Keep a Good Credit Score

The trick to building a good credit score is to borrow and repay enough to establish a good track record that proves you’re responsible with money, without borrowing so much that you can’t afford to repay it. In order to do this, one important strategy is to keep the amount of your credit line that you spend within manageable limits rather than maxing out your credit cards. Most credit card experts advise you not to spend more than 30 percent of your limit, but spending less will improve your score. Consumers with credit scores above 800 on the FICO scale, considered an excellent rating, generally spend only seven percent of their available credit.

In addition to keeping your spending within manageable limits, another major factor affecting your credit score is paying your bills on time. Always paying your bills on time will help maintain your credit score.

In addition, you can improve your score by taking out a loan and repaying it on time, which demonstrates that you’re responsible with debt management. Many banks offer small loans known as credit builder loans for this purpose.

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Credit Fraud

Another key to protecting your credit rating while you’re in college is guarding yourself against identity theft. Student identity theft is three times the average rate, and students are four times more likely to be taken advantage of by someone they know, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.

Protecting yourself against identity thieves requires following good online security practices. Lock your mobile device with a strong password or a biometric authentication tool such as facial recognition. For online accounts, use a password manager instead of typing in your password manually. Keep your operating systems and apps current with the latest versions and security updates. Use a secure connection such as a VPN when going online. Avoid transmitting financial data over unsecured connections such as public Wi-Fi hotspots, and only use encrypted sites featuring an HTTPS extension when making online transactions. Beware of email scams and bad links.

It’s also important to protect physical documents that may contain sensitive data. Make sure you pick up your mail promptly, and shred any financial documents before throwing them away. Keep important paperwork, such as your Social Security card, stored securely in a safe location such as a personal safe or a safety deposit box.

Monitoring your credit report will also help alert you if someone has stolen your identity. You can monitor your report automatically by signing up for an identity theft protection service. This type of service can notify you of suspicious use of your identity so that you can promptly alert credit bureaus to freeze your credit report. It can also help you recover your identity and limit your losses.

Be Strategic

Bad credit scores in college can hurt your ability to get a credit card or loan after graduation. You can build a good credit score by maintaining a low balance on your credit limit, paying bills on time, and building a history of repaying loans. Taking steps to guard yourself against identity theft, such as signing up for an anti-identity theft service, will also help you protect your credit score and your financial future.

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3 Adulting Skills College Students Should Quickly Learn

3 Adulting Skills College Students Should Quickly Learn

As a new college student, you’re likely enjoying your first dose of freedom and independence away from home. For instance, college may be the first time you’ve had to do your own laundry, budget for weekly groceries and contemplate whether another bowl of ramen noodles or Lucky Charms will satisfy you for dinner (don’t worry, we won’t tell your mom).

As part of being more independent, it’s also important to learn some key adulting skills that go beyond basic classroom punctuality and keeping on top of your homework. For example, here are three adulting skills all college students should quickly pick up and learn.

1. Learn How to Maintain Your Car

While living under your parents’ roof, chances are your folks took care of paying for car insurance and regular vehicle maintenance. But now that you’re away at college, it will become important for you to learn how to care for and maintain your car. In addition to keeping you safe on the road, taking your car in for regular maintenance can prevent more costly issues from popping up later.

In particular, tire shops and mechanics will typically put stickers on the top left corner of your windshield, indicating by date or a certain mileage when you should bring your car in again for a tune-up or tire rotation. Along these lines, it’s also important to learn how to determine the age of your tires, as well as what type to purchase.

Not sure how to go about it? Look for the long-tail code comprised of 10 to 12 numbers and letters beginning with “DOT” on the side of each of your tires. The date when the tires were manufactured will make up the last four digits of the DOT code, with the first two indicating the week they were produced and the last two indicating the year.

For instance, if your tires include “0412,” then you know they were manufactured in January 2012. Still, even if you aren’t putting a lot of miles on your vehicle, experts still recommend that your tires be replaced every five to six years. With that in mind, make sure to keep tabs on your tires’ birth dates and celebrate the occasion by buying new replacements when needed.

2. Pay Your Bills on Time

Even if your parents are taking care of your tuition, room and board or rent and groceries, it’s still a good idea to look into paying for some of your own expenses. For instance, if you have a part-time job, tell your folks that you plan to pay for your own groceries, as well as fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.

Similarly, if you pay your credit card online, make sure to set up reminder notices to avoid a late payment; after all, it’s not uncommon for credit card companies to charge $35 or more, even if your payment is only a day late. While you can certainly arrange for the minimum amount to be automatically withdrawn each month from your checking account, you’ll want to be sure you have enough money to cover these and other bills, including your utility, water, TV, internet and trash providers.Â

Indeed, paying your bills on time will not only keep your lights and water on, but it will also help to simultaneously increase your credit score and teach you responsibility.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Yes, you can stay up until 3 a.m. every night if you want to, and yes, you can drink extra lattes to get you through your finals week. But as any parent or expert will tell you, learning how to balance your studies and social life and getting enough sleep can be a difficult proposition, but certainly one that will help you throughout life.

Instead of feeling tired, stressed out and more prone to becoming sick, getting enough nightly sleep will keep you on an even keel. Thus, try to limit your late-night partying and join a study group to help you get your homework done during the day, rather than procrastinating until 2 a.m. However, if your roommate is a night owl, use a white noise machine, run a fan, and/or invest in some quality ear plugs to help you fall and stay asleep.

Congratulations, You’re Well on Your Way to Adulting!

Your college years will fly by pretty quickly, and before you know it, you’ll be on your own in the real world. But by learning a number of key “adulting” skills now, you will be better suited to take on the many responsibilities of post-graduate life.

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Tips and Tricks For The Budget-Savvy College Student

Tips and Tricks For The Budget-Savvy College Student

You’re in! Acceptance to that college you have been dreaming of has now become a reality. Then it hits you – how are you going to afford this? Well, it’s easier than you might think! However, it does require careful planning and strategy. You cannot simply show up on the first day of school and expect to “figure it out as you go”. Taking a few precautions and implementing a few strategies can help you become a budget-savvy college student.

Where Does the Money Come From?

First, let’s look at financial assistance at the college level. Financial aid officers are like your guidance counselors in high school, but on a much larger scale. Your financial aid office should be your new best friend. Their job is to guide and educate students about the many financial options available. So, make sure to get acquainted with them! Students are often unaware of the many options available to them in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study programs, etc.

One other thing many students don’t know is that funding opportunities can be available outside of the financial aid office as well. Your program’s office may also have scholarships or grants available that are specific to your major, so make sure you make it a goal to try to find out about all funding opportunities, so you can make an informed decision about which to pursue. Becoming knowledgeable about all of these options is a great way to start giving yourself a realistic idea of what your education will cost.

Time to Explore

Next, explore your college campus. Do you really need a car to get around? What transportation options are available? Many campuses are like an all-inclusive resort. There is literally no need to go off campus for your everyday needs. In situations like this, students can save themselves the cost of a car payment, car insurance, gas, and repairs by using public transportation. Many campuses even offer free or low cost shuttle services to get students around campus quickly and hassle-free! Also, ride sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft offer discount rates to college students, so do the math… is it cheaper to own a car or to use alternatives?

To Work, or Not to Work? That is the Question!

There are some pros and cons to working while being a college student, which need to be taken into account. Will it affect your study or class schedule? How will taking certain jobs which require certain hours impact your social life? Aside from social life, team projects may also be impacted by when and where you work. Will this job be something related to your major, or will it be a side gig to earn some extra cash? Also, will the position be on campus or off campus? There may be many perks to taking jobs on campus, such as not having to commute, interacting with students, staff and faculty of your campus community, and perhaps an increased chance that you will be engaged in other activities and know “what’s happening” on campus.

Determined that you want to get a job? Then it’s time to explore your options.  Check with, or better yet, visit the career center at your campus to see if any job opportunities are posted. Having some extra money by undertaking a fun job while in school is a win-win. If you don’t see anything of interest, you can look elsewhere to find something you enjoy that will work with your class schedule.

Understand Needs vs Wants

Having the above elements sorted will help you create a realistic budget. Groceries, dining, clothing, toiletries, supplies, etc. all add up very quickly. Creating categories of items which you know that you will be spending money on will give you insight about what you need versus what you want. Before school begins, scouting clearance and sales for some of these items and building a stock of necessities can help make this process easier. This will at least offset these costs for the first few months as you get settled in with your exciting new path as a college student.

Education is an Investment

Higher education can come with a daunting price tag. Don’t let the cost of tuition scare you! We have met college hopefuls who have decided not to attend their school of choice based on tuition alone, or even some who were so terrified by the tuition that they put off going to school altogether. There are numerous options that students can look into to help alleviate these costs. Think of your tuition like the sticker price on a car. What you see does not have to be what you pay! You will have to put in the time and the research to get what you want. As with all things in life, if you are dedicated to making it work, you just might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome! One thing that may alleviate any concerns you may have, is to do some research and find out how much you expect to earn once you have your dream job. Compare that to the cost of tuition. A college education is the key to earning that amount of money, so think of it like an investment!

Knowing Your End Goal Could Save You Money!

The end goal looks different for every student. The main question to consider: what do you want to accomplish with your education? Is it important for your resume to list a particular school? Is there an organization you can join which can help you with your career goals? These questions warrant close examination. For example, undecided or budget conscious students may opt to spend the first two years at a community college to satisfy the prerequisite courseworks and transfer into a full time university or college. Community colleges are cheaper compared to a private or state university.

The option is available to transfer credits from an associate degree to a college or university where students begin taking core courses. This is not the ideal option for everyone, as some professional degrees may require prerequisite associate level courses before moving on to the Bachelor level. If this is a viable option that suits your end goals, however, it could be a significant financial relief for you (and your wallet). The bottom line is, if you know where you would like to be, academically and in your career, the path you choose to get there could save you money in the long run. There usually IS more than one way to get there!

Today’s guest article comes from Desiree Van Campen, Dr. Kacey Shap, Dr. Jazmin Letamendi and Dr. Carl Letamendi from Ology Research Group. They provide support with research & evaluation support, survey instrument design, survey implementation, analytics for reports, assessment and grant writing. They may be reached at

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Personal Finances 101 for College Bound Students

Personal Finances 101 for College Bound Students

As you prepare yourself for college, you’re probably realizing that there is more to college than developing great study habits. For many of you, this is the first time that you will live away from home and have to manage your own money. If you’ve never had to do that before, you might not have the first clue where to start. Luckily, there are tons of resources out there that can teach you the basics and give you strategies that will turn you into a smarter money manager than most adults these days. To help you start off on the right track, here are a few ways of getting personal finance information before you set off for college:

#1 Online

Finding personal finance information online is one of the best ways to get the most up to date information. You can hear about new ideas and opportunities the moment they come out. So you’ll always know you’ve got the latest news available.

The internet also offers easier access to a wider variety of information. You can find everything from how to mitigate your debt to advice on where to live while in college. You can also find people in your exact financial situation blogging about the ways they are managing it. You can follow these people and even get in touch with them. This allows you to get more personalized and relevant advice than you might find in other sources.

However, the internet does have its downsides. The most significant one is the presence of bad information. You will have to sift through some questionable sources and filter out the misleading or manipulative sites before you actually find the sites worth reading and following.

Before you act on any advice or ideas you find on a blog or social media account, make sure that you look into its background. Find out who is writing and learn as much as you can about who they are and what they do. If it’s not easy to find this kind of information about their background, that itself is a warning sign. A legitimate blogger wants to be found and wants to provide information about who they are and where their expertise lies.

Once you find a quality source, stick with it. Sign up for email updates. Follow any social media accounts they may have. And add a note to your calendar reminding you to check in on the site at least once a month. Try to find at least two or three different blogs or websites that you check in on regularly.

This is a good habit to get into so that you can remember to actively manage your personal finances rather than ignoring them until they get out of hand.

#2 In Print

Magazines and newspapers are also great resources for quality personal information before you set off for college. On average, they tend to be more thoroughly researched than online sources. That doesn’t mean online sources have no value. It just means print sources tend to dig a little deeper or narrow their focus to really understand a specific issue.

Newspapers and magazines can also add some important context to your personal finances. The wider economy and market conditions are going to affect your personal finances as well. If you’re relying on financial aid, for example, it’s important to stay up to date about any policy changes the government makes that might affect how much aid you get.

If you ever plan on investing as part of your retirement plan, it is a good idea to start getting familiar with the financial markets as soon as possible. You don’t have to become an expert in economic theory or spend all your time closely analyzing the state of the market. Just make an effort to be aware of the key events and shifts that are happening.

To do that, subscribe to two or three newspapers that have solid reputations and articles that are relevant to you. Add these to your monthly reading list.

#3 Books

The best finance books are great resources to use when you’re ready to go really in depth on a particular topic. For example, as a college student, finding as much funding as you can outside of loans is going to be a top priority. A great book can give you thorough details and great exercises to help you gain the skills and insights necessary to qualify for as much financial aid as possible as well as win as many scholarships as you can.

Books can also help you develop the basic money management skills that you will need throughout your life. If this is your first time living on your own, you’ll need to learn how to make a budget, how to stick to that budget, and how to build credit without letting your debt spiral out of control.

With books, the key thing to watch out for is the date of publishing. College gets more expensive every year and the economy is always changing. The resources and tools available are also often changing. So reading a book written in 1970 might have a few good ideas but there will also be a lot of dated information that no longer applies.

Try to stick with personal finance books that have been written within the last 10 years. The only exceptions are those timeless books that describe methods and ideas that are relevant and practical no matter what the current conditions are.

You don’t have to read books as often as blogs, newspapers and magazines. However, you should try to fit one or two personal finance books into your schedule per year. This habit will deepen your knowledge and really help you think about how to apply all the ideas you have been reading about throughout the year.

Personal finance information is one of the most invaluable resources you can bring into your life. The more knowledge and skills you have with managing your money, the better off you will be throughout your entire life. So find the resources most relevant to you and make time in your schedule each month to educate yourself about your personal finances!

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Kostas Chiotis. He is an economist, online marketer, and entrepreneur that likes to spend his spare time managing his blog at Finance Blog Zone

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3 Practical Transportation Options for Today’s College Student

3 Practical Transportation Options for Today’s College Student

For many young people, heading off to college comes with a lot of excitement, but also some burning questions to consider. In fact, many college-bound teens may ponder the following:

  • Where will I live?
  • Will it be difficult to make new friends?
  • Will I like my classes?
  • What the heck is a quad, anyway?

However, one of the more practical questions should include which mode of transportation you plan to use during your freshman year and beyond. Indeed, what was convenient and worked from the comfort of home may not be a practical or affordable on-campus option. Here are three standard modes of transportation that can help you decide the best option(s).

1. Car

A car is the most convenient and useful mode of transportation, but it may not always be the most practical on-campus option. This is especially true when you’re trying to find a reliable place to park and spending hundreds of dollars on a parking pass. Still, you should inquire about specific on-campus parking policies and perks. Some schools don’t allow freshman to have cars, but offer that opportunity for upperclassmen.

Next, consider your school’s location. While some colleges and universities may be better suited for cars, owning and driving one at urban campuses like NYU or USC may become more of a burden rather than a nice perk. Additionally, think about how your campus is situated and where you’ll be living. Is the distance far enough that you’ll need a vehicle to get from home to campus or to travel between classes? Is there ample parking available? Will you get bombarded with too many ride requests?

If you think having a vehicle is the right option for you, make a budget that includes all of the costs associated with owning and operating one on campus. In particular, make sure to budget for the following:

  • Monthly car payments
  • Insurance
  • Gas money
  • Repair costs
  • Replacement parts (like a new set of tires)
  • Routine maintenance (oil changes, fluid replacement, etc.)

2. Bicycle

For urban campuses, a bicycle might be the most practical mode of transportation. In fact, many colleges offer free or discounted bicycle-sharing programs. Knowing that, riding a bike might be the quickest, most efficient way to get around, particularly on closed campuses that don’t allow cars.

But you’ll still want to consider the distance between your dorm or apartment and where your classes will be held. Indeed, riding a bike on campus might be advantageous if your place of residence, nearby amenities (restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers) and the actual college campus are all located within a few miles.

Just be sure there are safe routes for bicyclists to ride near your campus. If your school is located somewhere that experiences snow, ice and overall cold temperatures during the winter, you’ll also want to consider whether there is affordable backup transportation on days when riding your bike just won’t cut it.

If a bicycle sounds like a great option, consider the following costs when putting together a budget:

  • Bicycle
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • A dependable lock and helmet

3. Public Transportation

If you’re attending college in a big city, public transit might be your best option to get around. But before you decide to commit to using only city buses, subways or light rail, make sure to map out your routes. For example, Google Maps is a great resource to determine if there are nearby routes to get you from your dorm or apartment to class in a reasonable amount of time.

Of course, if you decide to use public transit, make sure to check out the different pricing tiers to determine the most cost-effective options. Additionally, think about how often you’ll be using a particular service and whether investing in a pass makes good financial sense. But you might also want to ask around, as some colleges and universities offer free or discounted public transit passes.

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How to Cut Expenses When Living Off Campus

How to Cut Expenses When Living Off Campus

If you’re finally moving out of the dorms into your own off-campus apartment, congratulations! That’s a big life move – at times it can be challenging and perhaps even overwhelming, but it’s never anything less than completely rewarding. However, living on your own means you will be faced with many responsibilities that you haven’t yet had to deal with, most of them financial. To avoid going bankrupt and having to return home after just one semester off campus, follow these tips for cutting your expenses. You’ll thank us for the advice!

Eat at Home

Ditch the college meal plan and just say “no” to eating out. Instead, put your new kitchen to use, and cook at home. Simply by buying groceries, you can save hundreds of dollars per year on food expenses. Additionally, you’ll have more say on what types of food you eat, and may find that your diet is healthier and more sustainable (assuming you don’t simply load up on sodium-rich instant noodles, of course). Plus, as a young college student, cooking and eating at home is a perfect opportunity for socializing – whether you cook with friends, a significant other, or simply a study group, you can enliven your meals with good company.

Take Public Transportation or Bike

If you can avoid it, resist the urge to buy a car until you absolutely need one. Remember, a car payment is only the beginning when it comes to paying for a car; you also have to insure the vehicle and pay for ongoing vehicle maintenance, which can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Instead, take public transportation or ride a bike around campus. True, some towns and colleges lend themselves to this more than others, but if you find that you mostly stick to one area, you likely don’t need a car of your own. Not yet, anyway.

Split the Utilities (and Rent) with a Roommate

Don’t take on the financial burden of living off campus alone. Instead, move in with a roommate or two. Not only will you be able to split the rent, but you can split utilities as well (assuming your landlord doesn’t cover these costs for you; be sure to inquire before signing the contract so you know what your costs will be). Simply make sure that your name isn’t on all of the contracts, because this makes you legally responsible in the event your roommate misses a payment or runs out on you. If you want to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share, use a rent splitting calculator to estimate each person’s obligation.

Do Your Shopping on Craigslist

Shopping for furniture? Find it on Craigslist. Looking for a commuter bicycle? Find it on Craigslist. Looking for some basic appliances? Find it on Craigslist. For all things discount shopping, Craigslist is your friend! Sure, there are some things that you’ll want to buy new – a mattress, for example – but for many of the things that you’ll need once you move into your new place, you will find that Craigslist has them! And at greatly discounted prices, too.

Cut Out Cable (and Other Needless Subscriptions)

If you’re in college currently, there’s a good chance that you’ve already cut the cord on cable television. But have you considered the idea that with subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and HBO Go (not to mention Google Play Music, Apple Music, and Spotify), you aren’t actually saving any money? Yes, each of these services unto themselves are incredibly affordable – often less than $10 per month, in fact – but they only represent a bargain if you stick to just one or two. If you sign up for every service that comes across your desk, you could quickly find yourself spending $100 or more per month on services that you don’t need. Cut back!

Get a Prepaid Phone Plan

With prepaid phone plans, you can get all of the data, talk, and text that you need at a fixed rate. This will help you avoid unnecessary surprises on your phone bill at the end of each month. Plus, you may find that going with a prepaid phone plan is simply the cheaper, more convenient, all-around better option. If you are on an existing plan that you have had for years, and are paying the monthly bill without question, it may finally be time to start questioning it. Do a little bit of cross shopping and price comparison, and you might just find that there are terrific deals available. Stop paying as you go, and sign up for a prepaid plan today.

Watch What You Spend

One of the simplest ways to cut expenses when living off campus is to cut back on spending. Going to the bar, eating out with friends, buying new clothes, hitting up the local clubs, and spending extravagantly on weekend getaways can cost a lot of money. And this is before ever spending a penny on your recurring monthly bills. Don’t pay attention to your expenses, and you may find yourself digging a deeper and deeper financial hole with each passing month. Don’t let that happen. Use apps like Mint to budget accordingly, and embrace free (and affordable) pastimes and attractions, and you can take charge of your finances.

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Preparing for Unexpected College Expenses

Preparing for Unexpected College Expenses

College is already stressful – workload, course load, homework and projects, club meetings and events without adding financial troubles to the mix. However, properly preparing for unexpected college expenses can help minimize stress.

There are plenty of places where students can go to get help managing money, applying for financial aid, and getting familiar with what to expect from college, including the Federal Student Aid.

Textbooks on a Dime

Text books are expensive, especially given many students don’t keep them past a year. A great way to keep costs low is to buy used texts as often as possible. There are plenty of online resources to ensure you get quality used books for a low price while others rent textbooks for the quarter, such as or Amazon.

Don’t purchase your books right away, either. Wait until you have a syllabus and know you will be staying in the class. Buying them before the first day can be costly if students drop the class for one reason or another. Fall quarter syllabus created in the summer can also change before the quarter starts up.

Digital text books can be rented or purchased and are often much cheaper, too. Plus instead of weighty books, they’re as light as the device they’re saved on.

Balanced Budgets

Budgets are the hardest part to stick to. Saving even 10 percent of your income from jobs or student aid can greatly increase your ability to cover unexpected costs.

Monitor your spending. Instead of springing for cable or daily lattes, go for Netflix and a coffee maker. There are ways college students can sway out spending for lower-cost options all over the place. Food costs can be cut by pooling food money and buying in bulk. Housing can be less expensive the farther from the campus students live, though, get too far out and you may need a car (negating some savings).

Credit cards can be a dangerous slope, as minimum payments are never enough and costs rack up quickly. It’s good to have an emergency credit card, but its easy to overspend via credit cards.

Having a car can be really fun, but aren’t the most cost-effective possession for a young college student. However, if you really want one to have cool road trips in or to haul your college gear, check out local DMV locations to get your in-state license if you don’t already have one.

Student Discounts

Many places offer student discounts when you show your student ID. Anything from insurance to food, clothing to services, and more. Organizations have already compiled comprehensive lists of places with student discounts, so all you may have to find is where businesses are located. When you’re at the register, just ask if they have a student discount and hopefully you’ll be able to save a couple bucks.

Amazon Prime even has a discounted version for students. Prime Student is a six-month free trial of all Prime services. After the initial trial ends, eligible students get a 50-percent saving off Amazon Prime for four years.

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Making The Move To College: Bargain Budget Must-Haves

Making The Move To College: Bargain Budget Must-Haves

There is no shortage of college preparation checklists and must-haves available on the internet. But as a soon-to-be college student who is preparing for an impending move on a tight budget, it’s a different story. With that in mind, here are some of the bare essentials you’ll need to live comfortably in college:

A Cozy Place to Sleep

After an all-night study session, there’s no place more comfortable than your bed. And since quality sleep has a strong correlation with academic performance, it is worth it to spend your hard-earned money on a quality mattress and bedding that you love. When it comes to buying a mattress, shop around and compare prices. Be sure to check online as well. While one may assume that it would be more costly to buy such a bulky item online due to shipping, it can actually be more affordable.

When it comes to bedding, you’ll need at least one set of sheets (or two if you have room to store a spare set), a down comforter, a duvet set and pillows (at least one for sleeping and a few decorative ones). If you’re going to splurge on one thing, it should be the pillow that you’ll sleep on. You can often save big on sheets with a set by Amazon Basics or find some at a discount chain like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. When shopping for anything bedding-related, be sure to shop around, as there are many great deals to be had if you have time to seek them out.

Homey Flourishes

Finding decor items that you love can make your dorm room or new apartment feel like home and help ease the transition into college life. Start by getting a few nice picture frames that you can use to frame some of your favorite photos of friends and family back home. Opt for a collage-style frame that can hold multiple photos if you have minimal wall space to hang pictures. Find knick-knacks like quirky bookends or colorful candles to infuse a little more personality into your new living space. Add a cozy throw blanket to the end of the bed to add a little more warmth, both literally and visually.

Additional Storage

Few college living arrangements are known for their ample storage space, so be prepared to invest in storage solutions. A plastic three-drawer storage chest on wheels is ideal for storing everything from socks and t-shirts to dry food goods, like macaroni and cheese and canned soup. If floor space is especially limited, use one of these storage chests as a nightstand.

Cooking Essentials

The stereotypical college student of years past may have lived off of instant ramen noodle soup, but today’s college crowd is more health conscious. While you may eat most meals in the campus dining hall, it’s still worth spending a little money to outfit your new place with a few cooking essentials. All you really need is a mini refrigerator, a small microwave and a few bowls, cups, plates and cutlery. You can find the small appliances available at steep discounts during back-to-school sales or even on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

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