Compare Cards Guide to Finances and Budgeting

The college years are a crucial time for preparing for adult life. When it comes to finances, being properly prepared can help mean the difference between living in a large loft apartment downtown and a small studio with barely any room. Learning how to save money and live on a budget and understanding how to use credit wisely are important tools to have for any college student. As you learn and grow, your money should grow with you. By properly planning out your expenses and income in relation to credit, you'll be able to better prepare for the future.

Before you head off to campus, saving your money can really help you be better prepared. Whether you want to go out for pizza with friends or buy new clothes, having money in your pocket will make life easier. A summer or part time job while you're still in high school can get you on the road toward saving. It is also a great teaching tool for when you're ready to join the workforce. Set up a bank account and put at least part of your paycheck into savings each week. You will be surprised at how quickly your money grows over time. There are plenty of job opportunities for young people, ranging from waiting tables and working in retail to being hired by the local library. Do some research to find out which employers in your area are hiring teenagers so you can start working toward building up your savings.

Once you start earning an income, how you budget that money is the key to avoiding overspending or running out of cash. Set up a simple spreadsheet or list, and write down all of your expenses. This should include things like gas and car insurance or car payments and even extras like your personal clothing allotment. Write everything down including the due dates, then plan out your payments accordingly. Add alerts on your computer or your smartphone to remind you when bills are due so you don't miss a payment. Proper preparation in budgeting can really help you see where your money is going and how you can save.

When it comes to credit cards, you should be wary of opening up too many accounts or using your card too often. When you're in college, the credit card companies start looking for new people to recruit, making it very tempting for people who don't have one. If you do get a new credit card, try to pay it off every month in full. This will not only boost your credit rating, but it will help you get more credit-related opportunities in the future. Try to avoid using your credit cards like an ATM. Cash advances have a much higher interest rate, and you'll be surprised at how fast it can cause your balance to go up, making it more difficult to pay down. With some practice in saving and proper budgeting, you will be better prepared for your financial future.

Saving for College

Jobs and Making Money


  • Budgeting 101: This brief article explains why budgeting while in college is so important.
  • Helpful Budgeting Tips: Follow these simple tips and you will be well on your way to understanding how to budget your money.
  • 10 Budgeting Tips: These ten tips provide some good suggestions for how you can better budget your money.
  • Sample Budget Sheet (PDF): Use this helpful worksheet to give you an idea of how to properly balance your personal budget.

Credit Cards

Money Management

Helpful Resources and Tools

  • Student Saving Guide: This page has lots of great ideas to help you save money in high school and as a college student.
  • Save and Invest: Here are some helpful ways you can start saving to invest for your future.
  • Credit Card Payoff Tool: Use this online calculator to figure out how long it will take to pay off your credit card.
  • Budgeting Tools: Check out these seven budgeting tools to help you with your money.
  • Ways to Save Money in College: Here's a great list with more on how you can save money while you're in college.