Ah, those college days! To most of us, they bring back memories of first loves, long hours studying for exams, and endless parties with the best friends of a lifetime. But all this fun can come at a cost?as the credit card bills of most college students attest too. It?s a shame that kids can graduate college with thousands of dollars of debt, instead of just a promising future.
Some might argue that college kids just shouldn?t have credit cards at all. They can?t handle it, these people say. But that?s not a fair option either, because credit cards give personal and financial freedom that college kids deserve. The answer is somewhere in the middle. College kids should have access to credit cards, but they should also learn to control their spending to avoid crippling debt.
1. Plan a Budget
One of the best ways to control spending is the old-fashioned budget. It may sound like an anachronism in a world of keg parties and all-you-can-eat pizza fests, but a budget could go a long way to preventing bad credit. First, figure out all your weekly, or monthly, expenses, such as food, books, bus fare, etc. A credit card statement is a great way to calculate this budget.
2. Follow Your Budget Carefully
Then plan to use your credit card for just these expenses?and pay for these expenses. You see, the only problem with credit cards is if you don?t pay them off month to month. If you plan ahead with your budget, and only spend the amount you planned every week and month, then you will be able to pay off your credit card on each statement. That, my friends, means no debt will build up.
3. Consider Only Using Your Credit Card for Major Purchases
Another view of credit cards goes like this: they should not be used for everyday purchases, but instead used for big buys. In this view, your monthly budget expenses would only come out of your cash fund. Your credit card, then, would be used for long-term purchases, such as furniture, books, and other things that may take longer to pay off.
4. Don?t Splurge
Going along with this view is the fourth way to help control your spending in college. And that is?don?t use your credit card for little splurges, like buying a round of beers for friends, sodas at the campus store, or CDs over the Internet. You?re better off leaving your credit card in a safe spot, checking your wallet for cash, and if it?s not there, then don?t buy!
5. Don?t Let Your Parents Help You
Last but not least, you can control your spending with college student credit cards by not allowing your parents to pay off your balance every month! Yes, believe it or not, taking a little bit of personal responsibility for yourself?even if you are in college?can go a long way to helping you hold off on irresponsible purchases.