Money Tips for Kids in CollegeDear Kid,

Money, like notes for that important paper that were Right Here just a moment ago, has a way of disappearing.

Sometimes it trickles out on little cat feet; sometimes it leaps away in Aslan-sized bounds (references provided in the Post Script).

In college, money can be particularly sneaky.

On the one hand, you don’t have a lot of it. Neither do your friends, so no one has a problem with frugality. On the other hand, for the first time you are on your own with a supply of cash. It can be hard to remember that it is a Limited Supply of Cash. (Unless you have a better job than I think you have.) Which means you’ll have to really think about how you spend your pennies and how you budget your funds until the next pay check.

If you’re out of money, try calling your grandparents. (I doubt they’ll give you any, but they might listen sympathetically.)

If you are a Kid who has been given a credit card to use For Emergencies (uh-huh. You know who you are.) then save it for emergencies. Let me point out that there are Absolutely No Emergencies at the College Book Store or Starbucks. Ever.

Buying a t-shirt for the cause-of-the-day or event-of-the-week is not a social necessity nor is it a Right. And while it may seem Absolutely Critical At The Moment, the real question is will you feel the same way in a week or a month or whenever you don’t have the cash for the next Absolutely Critical At The Moment thing.

Buying wings for the entire football team because you are the only one who has a debit card handy is probably not a great idea. Getting repaid is never as quick or easy as you think it’s going to be.countdown to college move in 3

Buying the latest pair of Nike’s or a zillion dollar pair of cleats or the latest bike accessory might be really cool. If that’s how you want to spend your money, fine. If you’d prefer to eat, that’s ok too. But I do not have an endless supply of money and I have no intention of refilling your account because you spent all your dough in the first three weeks on Spirit Wear and Sun Chips.

An Important Word about credit cards. As a college student you are now a Prime Target for credit card companies. They will be falling all over themselves in their eagerness to get you to sign up for a credit card. Or two. Or twelve. And they will give you credit. And there will be low monthly minimum payments. And it is ever so easy to pull out a credit card and pay for this, that, and the other things, because–after all–you don’t have to pay the bill until next month. DON’T DO IT. Don’t be taken in by easy terms, don’t fall for the “it’s good to build your credit rating now” pitch, just say thank you and move on. Seriously. There will be plenty of time to build your credit worthiness later. Far, far, far too many college kids get in all kinds of money trouble with credit cards. The absolute last thing you need right now is debt spiraling out of control because you missed a payment in the chaos of exams.

Love, Mom

References (but seriously, WHAT are they teaching in school these days?):


By Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Aslan is the lion (of the very big variety) from the Narnia series.