Do college students have their eye on their financial futures after they graduate? In today’s struggling economy and challenging job market, it takes more than a diet of Ramen dinners to prepare one’s self for life in “the real world.”
College is still considered to be an integral part of the American Dream. More than half (56 percent) of households surveyed recently by Millionaire Corner said that educational opportunities was the embodiment of the Dream. But it is no guarantor of success, as witness a recent Associated Press report that 53 percent of the Class of 2012 was either out of work or underemployed in jobs that do not involve their skills or training.
Not only are graduates competing with thousands of their peers, they are also up against people with years of experience who were laid off from other jobs. More and more of these young adults are being forced to move home or continue to accept contributions from the Bank of Mom and Dad for daily expenses such as groceries, cell phone bills or the Internet.
Therefore while you are in college you need to take the necessary steps in order to build a base for financial stability during your job hunt. For example, Greek life is a popular facet of college life at many colleges, but it can be very expensive. Students do not have to “Go Greek” to join the myriad of clubs and organizations most schools offer.
Living in a dorm may not be considered “cool,” but many colleges do make it mandatory for freshman and sophomores so they can get an authentic “college experience.”
One way for students to prepare for current and future financial success is to become a resident assistant, which provides free housing. Getting a job at the school dining hall or at a local business is also a viable option for making money.
Establishing a budget and a savings plan will also go a long way toward developing fiscally responsible behavior that will serve students when they are out on their own. Tracking one’s spending is an illuminating exercise that will reveal where one’s money goes.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson and skill a student can learn is to use credit cards responsibly. More than 90 percent of undergraduates have a credit card, and while there are federal laws that place restrictions on the marketing of credit cards to college students, banks find loopholes with which to lure new customers. A 2009 Sallie Mae study found that the average credit card debt for a college senior was $4,100.
Experts also recommend planning ahead. If a large bill looms or Spring Break is on the horizon, start setting aside money now to pay for it later.