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If you’re a recent graduate headed off to college in the fall, consider these smart money management tips to stay on track (and out of debt)!

  1. Make a budget and track all money coming in and going out, accounting for items such as books, supplies, food, personal care items, gas, laundry expenses and more. There are many online budgeting tools and money management apps to help.
  2. Track all expenses by saving your receipts, entering into a worksheet and then reviewing monthly. You’ll be surprised at how the little things add up and you’ll identify areas where you can save.
  3. Borrow only what you need. Don’t incur more student debt than you need. Take out loans to cover true school expenses (tuition, books, etc.) not lifestyle expenses.
  4. Be smart with your debit card making sure you always know your checking account balance before you make a purchase so you don’t overdraw your account and incur unnecessary fees.
  5. Use credit cards wisely by limiting the number of credit card accounts you open and always paying your balance in full each month. If you don’t, you’ll incur interest on the remaining balance which continues to grow monthly, whether you make a purchase the next month or not.
  6. Build good credit by paying your monthly bills in a timely manner. This might include cell phone bills, car insurance, credit card payments, utility bills and rent.
  7. Protect yourself from identity theft by guarding your personal information – Watch your bank statements closely to ensure all transactions are accurate. Keep all of your personal information private (be careful of what you share on social media), shred paperwork that includes personal details and never share your passwords or PINs with anyone.
  8. Save where you can, especially for emergencies. Pay yourself first by opening a savings account and automatically transferring any amount you can into savings. Also try to build up an emergency fund to help with those unexpected expenses that could arise such as car repairs, school expenses or even medical fees.
  9. Always ask for a student discount. Many restaurants, entertainment venues and services near a college campus will offer a student discount. Every little bit helps.
  10. Know what insurance you need. Make sure you’re covered with health, auto, renters or other insurance so you’re protected if something goes wrong.

Don’t exit college with a mound of unnecessary, high interest debt. Follow these tips to minimize that debt and set yourself up with a solid financial foundation.