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Budgeting Could Keep Freshman Out Of Debt
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE --The freedom and independence that college life provides can lead some freshman to overlook financial responsibilities.
Jan Lukens, consumer management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the most common budgeting mistake made by students is not keeping track of their money.
"Students need to take the time to sit and put things down on paper," Lukens said. "Sitting down and looking at the whole situation can make students aware of the danger of overdrawing."
Lukens said carrying cash, avoiding ATM machines and not writing small amount checks also can help simplify a student's finances. Small checks of $2 to $10 if bounced, could cost students up to $50 in overdraft charges.
The lifestyle of a freshman can sometimes contribute to their budgeting problems. Many students spend a tremendous amount of money on unnecessary expenses such as eating out, excessive shopping and road trips.
"Buying groceries and eating at home more can cut back on extra costs. Students can cut corners by shopping at discount stores or thrift stores for bargains. When looking to travel, students can economize by traveling in groups or staying with friends," Lukens said.
Lukens suggested keeping a record of budget costs and cutting back on the most expensive items.
Credit card debt also can put a strain on a student's finances. Lukens recommended owning only one credit card and paying it completely on a monthly basis.
Lukens said most students' money management problems develop at home but are amplified when the student leaves home for the first time.
"Parents should teach their children at a young age responsible ways to manage money. One good way to do this is to allow your child to receive a small allowance to manage and gradually raise their allowance as they show more responsibility," Lukens said.
For those freshman entering college this year, Lukens' message is simple:
"Budgeting does not have to be hard, it just requires a little discipline."