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10 things every college student should know about money

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Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 3:00 pm

Money is important, and often scarce, to the average college student. Follows are 10 money tips for students:

1. Spend less than you earn. Don't earn much? Then don't spend much. If your spending and income are roughly even, you have two choices: Earn more or spend less.

2. Be an outstanding employee. Good work habits can pay enormous dividends, leading to recommendations and contacts you can use after you're out of school. Many students turn work-study jobs into launching pads for future careers.

3. Don't get a credit card unless you absolutely need one. Don't be a sucker. Those guys sitting behind the sign-up table are not there to help you. They're there to make money.

4. Avoid non-academic debt. It might seem like a good idea to put that Xbox on a credit card, but it's not. Focus on developing good money skills with cash. Worry about credit later.

5. Save and then splurge. If you decide you must have that Xbox, then save for it. Wait until you can pay cash.

6. Pay your bills on time. Basic advice, but it's surprising how many people lose track of things. If you pay your bills as they arrive, you won't have to worry about forgetting them.

7. Track your spending. Use a notebook, or Quicken if you have it. Good records will prevent you from getting overdrawn at the bank or charging more than your credit limit. This habit also allows you to detect spending patterns.

8. Make a budget. It doesn't have to be fancy. At the start of the month, estimate how much money you'll receive and decide where it needs to go. Remember: You don't need to spend it all.

9. Save your receipts. Put them in a shoebox under your bed if you must, but hold onto them. You'll need to be able to compare them with statements at the end of the month. And some you'll need to keep for several years.

10. Guard your vital stats. Don't give out your Social Security number or your credit card information, except to known and trusted sources.

Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email Info@ArizonaCollegePlanners.com.

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