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Financial Health for College Students

Celebrating 75 years of service - PFCU Credit Union

For working adults the first step to financial health is earning more money than they spend. But for students, being financially healthy is a bit different. After all, the whole idea of being a student is to spend time studying and not working (or at least working less) in order to prepare for better opportunities in the future. And part of this trade-off often involves taking on debt in order to pay for school.

A financially healthy student works to minimize educational debt while successfully pursuing their career goals in college. They get the best deals on their loans, make informed decisions about whether or not to work while in school, and understand the tradeoffs between spending now and repaying later.

How does one become a financially healthy student? Financially healthy students share most of the following traits:

  • They are organized. Most of us think we are pretty good at keeping track of our money, even without creating a spending plan. The only problem is that we are... often wrong. If you've ever been surprised by your checking account balance or credit card bill, you know what we mean.
  • To avoid wasteful spending, financially healthy students track their income, monthly bills, and daily expenses. Being organized doesn't take much time and it will help to ensure that you are spending money on what matters the most to you.
  • Financially healthy students are informed. They understand any fees associated with their bank or credit union accounts, and they know how much these fees add up to each month. They check their credit report at least once per year to spot errors and to check for the warning signs of identity theft. They also know the interest rates on all of their debt and understand what could possibly cause those rates to change. By being informed, financially healthy students can create a plan for minimizing the most expensive debt while in school - possibly saving thousands of dollars over the life of their loans.
  • They think about the future. They may not have all the answers, but they have a good idea about where they would like to be - financially - after graduation. They have thought about their career and what their financial situation may be like as far as five years into their career. These are the big questions that too few students consider when making decisions about college, careers, and debt levels.