Students learn many different skills in college, but most of them have very little to do with what’s in their books. They learn to make friends, express themselves and choose the interests they’ll take with them for many years to come. Some will even learn good spending habits that will lead to a rewarding financial future. It’s typical for this learning process to have some ups and downs. If you’re a college student, here are five bad spending habits that you can break to improve your current and future financial standing.
Paying Unnecessary Transaction Fees
What’s a few dollars here or there? Three bucks at the ATM might not seem like much, but those fees can add up over time. If you allow yourself to get nickeled and dimed, you’ll be far behind financially in the long run. Get plenty of cash when it’s free so that you don’t have to pay a 20-percent fee for a $20 bill when withdrawing money from a ATM that is not your home bank. If you create a spreadsheet to add up all the money you’re paying in fees, you’ll see that at the age of 50, those fees just may add up to an incredible vacation.
Buying Fast Food
Eating out can be a treat that helps you make it through the harder days of college. It can also be a great social tool to get you ready for the real world, where business is often done over a table. Eating fast food because you didn’t give yourself enough time to prepare lunch is a great way to blow your budget, though. Fast food meals have gotten much more expensive recently where meals are now costing almost $10 or more. Over the course of a month or a year, fast food can take up hundreds of dollars that you might have used for something better.
There’s something about college that makes students plan everything at the last-minute. How can you plan a trip home for two months from now when you don’t know what your friends will be doing that weekend? Waiting until the last-minute might be convenient, but it will cost you money. If you’re booking flights and hotels, try to book at least a month in advance. The upside is that your parents will be better prepared for your trip home.
Fees Stemming From Financial Irresponsibility
College students are often able to get credit cards from banks like Wells Fargo, Discover and Chase, despite not having much of an income. They can also be irresponsible with their bank accounts. When you’re just learning to manage these things, going over the limit, being late with a payment or some other bit of irresponsibility can be easy mistakes to make and can cost you a chunk out of your budget. In some cases, banks will let you set up overdraft protection to ensure that a purchase does not overdraw your account. This can save you the $30 per mistake fee that will hurt your monthly budget.
Being a college student is about learning. You don’t have to be perfect, but you are expected to get better with every mistake. Financial mistakes will happen, and your budget will be affected because of it. If you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to correct these errors and improve your financial future for the better.