College is the ideal time to start building smart money habits
College is an ideal time for students to begin their journey toward financial health by establishing
healthy financial habits. While students can learn how to manage their finances in the classroom, it’s the
real-time on-campus experiences that present opportunities to begin practicing responsible saving and
Yes, college students are adults, but between juggling studies, a job and planning for their future, most
still value guidance and tools to handle their increasingly independent lifestyle. Here are some
suggestions to help those looking to develop good money habits while in college.
Go back to basics
While most college students understand their spending and saving — often developing those skills
through part-time jobs in high school — the increased financial responsibilities that come with college
can mean it’s time for some refresher courses. Consider tracking spending for a period of time and
separate expenses into “needs” versus “wants.” Groceries and rent are important needs, for example,
while late-night dinners with friends would be considered wants.
Build a budget
After tracking monthly spending, it’s easier to develop a budget to see how much money is coming in –
whether it’s from jobs, scholarships, loans, family contributions or other sources — versus how much is
being spent. Students can make sure they have enough money for their needs, figure out how much
they have for their wants and determine what needs to be adjusted. Even if it seems minimal, setting
aside some funds for savings will go a long way as well. Becoming mindful of spending decisions,
including the need to cut back on some “wants,” is a lifelong exercise, so getting into practice now can
pay dividends in the long term.
Minimize student debt
While borrowing for college might be unavoidable, there are ways to reduce debt as a student. Making
loan payments while still in school can decrease the amount to be paid back after graduation because
interest has less time to accrue. Students can also apply for grants, scholarships and awards while in
college, as many are offered specifically for upperclass students or for outstanding achievement in a
field of study. Campus jobs are also available for students and can pay for room and board (like a
resident assistant role) to put extra money in their pockets.
Use credit with care
Many students apply for their first credit cards in college. Cards geared toward new card holders, like
the Chase Freedom Rise card, can be a great way to start building a credit history. These cards tend to
have low credit limits and low annual percentage rates to help students avoid charging more than they
can pay back. Students should aim to pay off their purchases each month to avoid interest charges,
which will make their purchases cost more in the long term than the initial sticker price.
The bottom line
A slew of financial tools are available to help college students track their spending, saving and
budgeting. Many banks also offer checking accounts designed for college students such as Chase College
Checking, which allows them to manage money, view accounts and transfer or request money all
through the Chase Mobile app.
If you’re ready to start on the road to financial success or want to help your college-aged child build
good financial habits to last a lifetime, visit Chase.com/StudentBanking to learn more.