Financial Advice for College Students

Jan 27, 2020 | Managing Debt, Personal Finance | 0 comments

College students talking about their finances

Back in 2011 I graduated from college with just under $10,000 in student debt. The rest I paid for cash. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it to walk away with a fraction of the debt burden other students carried. I’m sharing my financial advice for college students who want the same for themselves. To get a strong education with healthy financial habits and as little debt as possible.

We all know that college continues to get more and more expensive, student loan debt is terrifying and many Americans are drowning in debt.

But if you are a college student that takes my financial advice, you can graduate without the student loan debt that is crushing the many who came before you.

I know what you’re thinking though and no, none of this advice has to do with scholarships, grants, being a tech startup wonder-kid or any of that one-in-a-million advice. These are tips that literally anyone can and should do.

Financial Advice for College Students


Done with this semester’s textbooks? Don’t let them gather dust, put them on eBay and Amazon immediately and recover some if not all of the money you spent when you bought them. Also, if at all possible – never buy books from bookstores at your college/university. 70% of the time you can find the book on eBay or Amazon at a significant savings – just search for the book you need by the ISBN.


Whether you are a working student, live off your student loans or anywhere in between – you need a budget. Managing your money well should always be a priority, but even more so if you live off of your student loans. Every dollar you spend you will need to pay back later, but with interest. So find a budgeting app or tool that you like and build the habit of managing your money, now to control spending and find opportunities to save and limit your student loan burden.


As a student you should budget for a full semester at a time. Even if you aren’t sure exactly how much money you will make because of hourly work or fluctuating student loan disbursements, know how much money you need is crucial. Calculate all of your expenses and make sure you will be able to cover the costs. If not, find ways to make up the difference, ideally without debt.


Between Starbucks, Target, nights out etc. It is easy to have the “I’ll only go to college once” mentality, but it all adds up and a lot of times, causes a lot more stress than joy. So try living simply and spending less than what you can technically afford right now, without debt.


Eating out is one of the largest unnecessary expenses and it is an absolute budget killer. As a student, odds are you have enough time to cook for yourself. Save some money and teach yourself a functional and delicious life skill!


No matter where you live, there are tons of ways to spend time with friends and spend little to no money. Free events, getting outdoors, movie nights at your place…You get the idea. Talk with your friends who share your goal of being financially savvy and come up with fun ways to spend time together on the cheap!


Studies confirm that when someone pays using a credit (or debt) card, they are willing to spend up to 60% more than if they were paying cash. I.e. paying cash will help you stick to your budget! Plus, you will always know exactly what you can afford and will be less tempted to spend more than you can afford because you can actually see that your resources are finite.


There are a lot of myths out there that you need to start building your credit while you are in college and that using credit cards is the best way to do that. But this simply is not true. There are many other ways to build credit that do not involve using a credit card. (We’ll get more into that in another post soon.) So save money and build positive spending habits by not opening a credit card account.


An unpopular opinion – but the fact is, if you can limit your student loan burden by working extra here and there, future you will thank you. Dylan and I have never met a single person/client that has said “I wish I had worked less and took on more student loans in college.” Because NO ONE would wish that! So, if you have down time – get some extra work and make that money!

Too many people think that college should be an “experience” but don’t buy into that. College is meant for an education. When you can’t afford it or don’t want to be in debt for the rest of your life – you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get through it in good financial shape. Otherwise what is the point? Why pay $40,000 for a degree when your earning potential will not climb proportionately?


This is the financial advice for college students – that no one gives. Many employers, even more now than back in 2011, offer some level of tuition reimbursement. For me personally, I worked in a Level 1 Trauma Unit in a County Hospital in Dallas, Texas. But you don’t have to look that hard to find them now. You can work at Chipotle, Home Depot, or Starbucks to name a few. This is a wonderful way to maximize your benefits and overall take home from your work. While putting it directly towards the expenses incurred from obtaining your degree. I maxed out the benefit at my place of work and used the money to cover books, tuition.

Looking for more information and help building a financial plan while you are still in or recently graduated college?

Book an obligation-free Discovery Call and we will let you know how we can help!


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