Let’s talk Money.
Don’t roll your eyes.
You are enough of an adult for us to have this conversation and enough of a kid for me to (more or less) force the conversation upon you.
Money is a good thing. Money is perhaps a great thing. It can’t (generally) buy happiness, but it can buy food and shelter and clothes and guitar strings. It can buy shoes and jeans and shoes and accessories and shoes and sports equipment and shoes and boots and sandals.
Money does not grow on trees. Depending on the interest rate, it might not even grow very much in the bank.
Money is never something you should obsess over. But money appreciates a modicum of attention and without that modicum of attention, money will trickle away in frivolous purchases that are easily (and perhaps best) forgotten.
Mom’s Money Rules for College Kids
1. Begin saving for something immediately if not sooner. Not a lot—you don’t have a lot of money to begin with. But get in the habit.
2. Be judicious about debt. Sometimes it is unavoidable. (Did I hear you say Student Loans?) But be aware of interest rates and your ability to make payments.
3. Avoid credit card debt like the plague. If you can’t afford to pay the entire balance every month, you can’t afford the purchase. Living with the disappointment is easier than having crushing debt.
4. Cut corners. Not in studying or school work, but in purchasing. Avoid spontaneous purchases of bright shiny objects. Don’t always pick up the check for everyone because you’re a nice guy (you are a nice guy, but you’re broke). Buy food you can afford. NOTE: You cannot afford steak on a regular basis. Eat out as a treat, not a habit. You’re in college—you’re supposed to suffer.
5. Donate to charity. Not necessarily with money since we’ve already established that you suffer from a shortage of ready cash. But you have enough time to do some good in the world.
6. Don’t gamble. The house always wins. If you want to play a game of chance (I include all forms of poker in this category for the purposes of this conversation), decide how much you are willing to lose (the amount you’ll “pay” for fun) and don’t exceed it. I repeat: The house ALWAYS wins.
7. Don’t skimp on your health. If you need meds, get them and take them. If you have a cut, get a bandaid. Handle stuff when it’s the small stuff so it doesn’t become the big stuff.
8. Create a budget and stick to it. Boring, I know. But important.
9. Be willing to ask for help. Very few college kids are financial geniuses. Even those studying business are learning about corporate finance which has pretty much nothing to do with real life. Ask for help and learn from others.
10. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Move on.
Decide what money rules are important to you. (You’re young, you can modify them as you go.)