Financial worries are a major source of stress in the life of a college student, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. With tuition rising almost every year, students have enough to worry about without raking up credit card debt.
The average credit card balance for an undergraduate student is $3,173, and the median debt is $1,645, according to a 2009 report from Sallie Mae. And interest rates are often in the double digits.
These figures are disconcerting, and it’s imperative students limit credit card spending. Companies offer free T-shirts and other incentives to encourage students to sign up for a card, but students need to watch out for hidden fees and high interest rates. When credit card debt piles up, it can be difficult to pay off.
To help combat these financial worries, students should become more aware of their own spending. One way to do this, anti-credit card activist Dave Ramsey said on his daily online radio show, “The Dave Ramsey Show,” is to get rid of credit cards altogether. This may be too hard for many students, but there are other ways to limit spending and save money.
Students spend too much in areas like entertainment. Instead, join clubs or watch free movies on campus. It could save almost $20 on a movie and popcorn during a trip to a theater. Even renting from an Internet service like Netflix would save money.
Students also should cut back on daily non-essential consumables. The $5 Frappuccino can wait for another day. Buy a coffee maker instead. For the same price as 10 expensive coffees, students can buy a decent $30 coffee maker and about $20 worth of coffee – enough to last a month or two.
Students can also take better advantage of financial aid. Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid is offered, according to student aid Web site, Financial Aid Finder.
As daunting as it sounds, making a budget and paying attention to finances is crucial for college students. Simple free spreadsheets can be found online with just a simple Google search.
Now is the time for students to take control of their spending, cut up the credit cards and begin a new day as a financially savvy, informed college student.
Nick Johnston is a junior majoring in creative writing.