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Achieving Financial Fitness
as a College Student

Posted on June 6, 2024

Achieving Financial Fitness
as a College Student

McKenna Bladl

Navigating financial fitness as a college student can be intimidating, especially when you’re balancing academics, social life, and possibly a part-time job. However, getting a head start on managing your finances can set you up for long-term success. These three key areas will allow you to take the first step in becoming financially fit.


Building and Maintaining Credit

Establishing good credit early is one of the most important steps you can take. Your credit score affects your ability to rent an apartment, buy a car, and even get a job. Opening a credit card young helps build a credit history, paving the way for financial opportunities. To maintain a good credit score, charge small amounts to your credit card and pay off the balance in full each month. Late payments can negatively impact your credit score. Set up reminders or automatic payments to ensure you never miss a due date. You can open a secure credit card at Citizens to help grow your credit. By managing your credit wisely, you can build a solid credit history that will serve you well after graduation.


Creating a Budget

Budgeting might seem tedious, but it’s a powerful tool for managing your finances. A budget helps you understand where your money goes and ensures you live within your means. Start by listing all your sources of income, such as part-time jobs, scholarships, and allowances. Next, list your monthly expenses, including tuition, rent, utilities, gas, groceries, and entertainment. Allocate your income to each of your expense categories. Make sure that your essential expenses are covered before allocating money for discretionary spending. You should also aim to save a portion of your income each month for unforeseen emergencies and to create a habit of saving. Downloading a budgeting app or creating a simple spreadsheet can help you track your finances. By maintaining a budget, you’ll have better control over your finances and be prepared for both expected and unexpected expenses in your future.


Understanding investments

Investing can seem complex, but starting early can significantly impact your financial future. Start by understanding different types of investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Resources like Investopedia and financial news websites offer valuable information. Consider opening a retirement account like a Roth IRA. Contributions to this retirement account are made with after-tax dollars, and your money grows tax-free. Plus, withdrawals in retirement are tax-free! Many platforms have no minimum investment requirements, making it easier for college students to start investing with a small amount of money. Even small, regular investments can grow significantly over time thanks to compound interest. Understanding and participating in investments early on can lead to significant financial growth and security in the long term. For a secure way to save money, see your banker for Roth Savings account options.

Achieving financial fitness as a college student is entirely within your reach. By building and maintaining good credit, creating a realistic budget, and beginning to invest, you can set yourself up for a secure financial future. These habits will not only help you navigate your college years with less stress but also equip you with the skills needed to thrive financially after graduation. Start small, stay consistent, and remember that the habits you build now will pay off immensely in the long run.