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Is getting a credit card at college a smart move?

Daniel Culpan Daniel Culpan is a financial solutions writer on a wide range of topics including debt management and debt consolidation.

If you’re currently at college, there are all kinds of times when you may feel having a credit card could be useful.

Whether it’s for that mini-vacation over spring break or summer, to give your cash flow a bit of a boost for your groceries shopping, or simply to cover the cost of socializing with friends, being able to borrow a bit of cash from time to time could really help.

However, for the vast majority of college students, money is tight, and having to keep on top of regular debt repayments (and not to mention the interest on top) could be difficult.

If you’re living away from home for the first time, and learning to be financially independent, taking on credit when you need to could seem like an ideal option – but there are safer ways of giving your finances a boost.

Let’s have a look at some of the ways you could stay financially afloat while you’re studying – so you can make the best decision for you.

How to boost your cash flow – and stay ‘in the black’

Starting college is a new experience that usually comes with some brand-new financial responsibilities. From paying rent and bills to groceries and socializing with friends, you’ll have all kinds of costs to keep on top of – and more than likely without being bankrolled by Mom and Dad!

Managing your money independently for the first time at college can come as a bit of a ‘shock to the system’ for many, but there are methods that could help you cover the cost of college life without getting into debt.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Consider getting a part-time job. Check for job vacancies at your college: you could get a job in the cafĂ© or student bar that fits around your studying hours. If not, you could always try shops or restaurants at the local mall. Whatever approach you take, earning your own money could really help to give you some financial independence – and could even make you less willing to spend your pay check on things you don’t really want/need.
  • Do you have any old items you could sell? Whether it’s a guitar you bought but never got around to learning, or an old CD/DVD collection, you may be able to raise a bit of extra cash (if they’re still in good condition) by selling them online, or advertising them on the college noticeboard.
  • Think about what skills you have. Can you speak a foreign language? Are you particularly good at chemistry? Why not give up some of your time to tutor other students? You could even do it over the holidays, so it doesn’t clash with your study schedule.

Staying within budget

Spending within your means is, of course, one of the best ways of avoiding the need for credit.

You could consider:

  • Setting a weekly limit for your food shopping
  • Planning your social calendar a month or so in advance – as far as possible – so you can work out how much you’ll need to cover the cost
  • Using coupons at the store, to knock money off your bills for all the essentials.

Whatever approach works for you, stick with it – and it could help you make sure your budget covers the fun stuff as well as the necessities!

This entry was posted in Budgets, Credit Cards, Debt Management. Bookmark the permalink. Read more articles by Daniel Culpan. (Also see articles by all authors and articles in all categories.)

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