Financial Advice for College Freshmen

The Free Money Finance blog recently posted a user’s question on financial Advice for a College Freshman?  While there may be endless tips on the subject, here are four key areas I recommend focusing on.  I know a lot of my readers are out of college, so feel free to add to it in the comments below and I’ll pass them on.

Find a Co-op Job or Internship

Check with your school’s career development or career services office and see what type of help they provide for obtaining a internship or co-op job.  These types of jobs provide two great things.  First, they will provide money towards your college living expenses and savings.  Second, and more importantly, jobs provide work experience that will teach you valuable professional skills and set you apart as a job candidate when you graduate.  Even if the job adds a semester or two to your college life, you are simply extending a great time to develop friends and future connections and better preparing yourself for the future.

Build a Fund to Pay Off the Loan

Assuming you are able to get some type of job, start working on a savings account to pay off that loan.  I recommend an online bank like ING Direct or Ally that offers a decent interest rate and easy access to your account.  Set monthly goals based on your income and save before you spend.  Most college loans start charging interest after you graduate so no need to make payments until then, but if you have built up a savings account during college you will have some momentum into paying that loan off afterwards.  Remember, loans are a constant distraction to developing one’s positive financial future and paying off the loan as soon as possible will help you focus on more important financial questions later in life.

Get Involved

Outside of just accumulating cash to be well prepared for the future, you should invest in yourself and skills as well.  Your ability to succeed often corresponds to the amount of experience you have and the connections you have.  The best way to gain experience working as a team and driving initiatives is by getting involved in clubs in college.  Most colleges have a great variety of clubs to participate in so look for something you enjoy and practice being a leader and making things happen.

Work Hard

Every thing you want to accomplish in life will require some bit of effort.  A great work ethic is what drives you through those hard times when you start to forget why you are doing something.  College offers a great time to develop that work ethic whether it’s in class, in a club, or on the job.  Don’t be afraid to fail and practice developing the endurance that will pay off later in life.

(photo credit SBA73)

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