College Students and Money

By: Mary Wallace

We live in an increasing more material world. We have grown to expect instant gratification in every way. We no longer need to go to the bank and stand in line to get to our money. We wave tiny keychain devices in front of a receiver to pay for items at the store. Computers start up in no time and internet information is available on just about any subject that we can dream up in a snap. We don't even have to walk to the mail box to pay a bill anymore. Remote controls, cell phones and MP3 players ensure that we can get where we need to go, talk to whomever we choose and listen to whatever we want in an instant. Our lives as Americans are full of conveniences and luxuries that our ancestors and people in other countries never dreamed of. So how does all of this convenience affect college students?

Current college students have spent their entire lives in this world of instant gratification and automated convenience. They have access to student credit cards to get them out of a bind, but credit cards can also get them into one. This is actually one convenience that can really help college students get by and help them prepare themselves for the future. Building your credit early is important in this day and age. Soon they'll be out in the real world, needing to open cell phone contracts in their name, buy vehicles and ultimately buy a house. Keep in mind that most long-term big loan contracts, such as a home mortgage, can require up to an eight year good credit history to qualify. As long as they act responsibly, starting on a credit building financial journey while in college is necessary for those who will eventually buy a home.

Building credit can be accomplished if the right steps are taken. Signing up for a secured credit card is a relatively safe way to teach college students the responsibilities of owning a credit card. Secured credit cards require a deposit and the deposit dictates the amount of credit available. If you deposit $500, then you can spend up to $500. This is a great way to establish credit, or repair credit that has been damaged in the past. When you make your payments on time and when you are overall responsible for your finances, you will build your credit and you'll usually be rewarded for your efforts. Banks and credit card companies keep track of your history and may offer you a line of unsecured credit or simply increase the amount that you are able to spend on that credit card. You will establish a credit score and be eligible for future loans and unsecured credit cards. Secured credit cards are a great way to teach college students about the discipline of paying off something long-term.

If they learn to avoid the instant gratification trap that they've been raised to expect and really only use the credit card for emergencies, then they will be better off in the future. Having a credit score and history that says good things about them will help them take pride in what they have learned and accomplished during their college years and will lay the groundwork for a successful financial life.

Money Management
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