Navigating college life as a freshman is tricky enough. Add on the first taste of financial freedom, and many students are bound to stumble.
For incoming students, college means a slew of new responsibilities. There’s getting used to course work, classes and making new friends. Campus life also marks the beginning of financial independence. With that comes many opportunities for failure, along with lasting consequences.
“Our nation’s kids are graduating high school without so much as a course in economics,” Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association’s ABA Foundation, said of most freshmen’s under-preparedness.
“Other than sex, finance is one of the hardest things for parents to talk about with their kids,” he said.
To break the ice, here are the top money mistakes college freshmen make (and how to avoid them):
No. 1: Stocking up at the bookstore
“The first time you go with your first child to college, a parent will look at the list of required and suggested books and they buy them all brand new and they spend a fortune,” said Daniel Pantucci, a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch and the parent of two college students. “Those books could have been bought used or rented,” he said. If you must have the newest edition, opt for an e-book.
If the bookstore is sold out of used texts, try Amazon, Pantucci advised. That’s where Pantucci recently found a used version of a $250 business law book for his son for $39. “There are huge discrepancies in price,” he said.