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Smart Planning for College

Female college student showing computer program to her classmate during a lesson at computer class at college

College can be one of the greatest times in anyone’s life. But it can also be financially frustrating. Living on a fixed income can be stressful when it’s the first time on your own. We’ve put together a few ways to stay within your budget as you prepare to go or are already in college.

Make a budget with your parents. Be sure to include monthly lab fees, internet costs, phone charges, meal plans, and anything else you will need for college life. But above all, be honest with yourself. If you don’t think you can stick to a budget on paper, it could be nearly impossible to do in real life.

Limit unnecessary debt. Don’t take extra student loans just to pay for a swanky apartment or have extra money for nights out with your friends. Take only what you need to cover the cost of college so you’re not in over your head after graduation.

Don’t use credit cards to pad your budget. Applying for and using a credit card before or during college is fine. It can help you build credit. But, avoid using it if you don’t have a way to pay it off. Even using it for an emergency here and there can add up fast.

Track your spending carefully. Log into InRoads Online or Mobile Banking regularly. Take a good look at everything you buy. If you notice that you’re spending too much on something frivolous, cut it out of your purchases. You’ll also know if you’re getting close to spending your whole budget before the month is over.

Plan for your someday. College is not forever. Eventually, you’ll enter the workforce and get to do all of those adult things you’ve wanted to do forever. Making smart spending decisions now will make financial life after college a little bit easier.

Use your resources. There are many helpful guides out there that you can use to plan out the future. One resource for InRoads members is BALANCE. They have a plethora of toolkits to help students be more money minded.

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