Smart Money Tips for College Students

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

Earlier this fall I packed my daughter off to college.  The experience of stepping back on to a college campus at the beginning of a new school year certainly brought back memories…buying books and spirit wear, free t-shirts for completing credit card applications, and ordering pizza to my dorm room. It also brought back memories of lots and lots of college students making lots and lots of bad money decisions.

If you are like me, no matter whether your child is a freshman or a senior in college, you want to make sure that your child is learning some important financial life lessons while they are enjoying their time at school.  And if you are like me, your child might sometimes tune you out if you are trying to teach them lessons based on your college days. “Mom, that was so long ago; things are different now!”  I wanted to make sure I could pass on some tips here that were relevant and timely, so I took the opportunity to talk to our younger team members at The Center, who have more recent college experience. Here are the tips straight from the mouths of our young professionals at The Center:

Top 5 Smart Money Tips for College Students:

  1. Don’t spend loan money on things outside of tuition, books and room and board. Take as little out in loans as possible; your future you will appreciate it!
  2. If you can, arrange your class schedule to allow yourself to hold a part time job – even a few hours a week – to help with expenses.
  3. Open a credit card with a small limit early to build some credit. Consider using it only for specific expenses (i.e. gas) and pay it off monthly!!!
  4. Actively search out scholarships and grants year-round – they are out there for everyone.
  5. Start early when it comes to exploring internships and jobs for summer and after graduation.  The more experience you have from internships and jobs, the more marketable you are. The earlier you can lock in positions, the less stress you have at the end of the school year.

Please feel free to share these tips with your students, with the hope that they start their college career building good financial habits.  If we can be of assistance with additional tips, or with your education planning needs, please contact us.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In 2012-2014 Sandy has been named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Sandy Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James.