21 Things Your College Won’t Teach You About Money (Which You Must Know)

We all have struggled with Geometry and Calculus during our college days. But looking back on them, these subjects (and many more) now seem so irrelevant in our day-to-day lives.

Put simply, financial literacy was kind of missing back in our college days. Therefore, many adults of all ages struggle with financial management.

But that is about to go away… This article will walk you through some must-know tips related to money, which college probably didn’t teach you.

  1. Do not let your money sit stagnantly

Maintaining a significant balance in your savings account could seem like the best idea to experience bliss, but believe us, it is not!

And you are not alone. Many people simply allow their hard-earned money to sit in their savings account, earning only a few pennies each month—if anything at all!

We highly recommend investing your money in an investment account to earn passive income.

  1. Keep a sharp eye on your credit reports

If you are like most of us, you probably never checked your credit report while you were in college. Many adults do not keep an eye on their credit reports and end up making poor financial decisions that end up costing them more in fees, penalties, and their credit scores.

Truth be told, most leading banks and lenders refuse to extend loans to people with poor credit scores. So, if you haven’t been keeping an eye on your credit, now is the time.

  1. Investments aren’t just for the rich

Investing is often associated with the rich and wealthy. However, this is merely a myth.

Anyone can begin investing, regardless of income. There are many different types of investment options available, from mutual funds to stock markets, and automated micro-investing apps like Stash and Acorns.

  1. Student loans are NOT free money

Although college students are often busy with college life, many often forget that a college education costs money. College students that take out loans to fund their education often forget that they have to pay them back once college life is over.

After graduation, many college students have a sudden panic attack when they realize that they are now required to pay back a significant amount.

Begin making payments as soon as you can in order to avoid being in debt most of your adult life, or going into default.

  1. Not all credit cards are bad

You might have been taught that credit cards are evil.

Yes, they can be dangerous and financially crippling if they are used irresponsibly. On the other hand, they can also help build your credit score, especially if you make regular, on-time payments, or pay off your balance each month.

Furthermore, many credit card companies and retailers offer various rewards programs, which can help you in earning extra cash!

  1. Do not always believe what you hear

Many adults end up losing money or making poor investment decisions because they took the advice of someone else. When it comes to financial management and investments, it’s important to remember that what works for one person may not always work for another.

If you are unsure of what investment decisions are best for you, consider speaking with a financial advisor rather than your best friend.

  1. Plan for retirement well in advance

It might be too early to talk about retirement, but, let’s face it: the sooner you start planning for it, the more financially comfortable and prepared you will be as you approach retirement age.

  1. How interest rates and credit cards work

If you decide to open up a new credit card account, be sure to closely review the card’s terms and conditions, paying particular attention to fees and interest rates. Pay your balance in full every month!!

  1. Balance your checkbook

With the availability and accessibility of technology, mobile apps, and online banking, checkbooks aren’t as popular as they used to be. However, it is still important to understand how to write a check and balance a checkbook correctly. Remember, checks aren’t made of rubber!

  1. Budgeting basics

Although maintaining your budget is an art, but don’t you think these basic concepts should have been taught in college—or even earlier? Some of the best budgeting practices include creating a weekly and monthly budget, tracking your purchases, building an emergency fund, and avoiding unnecessary expenses.

  1. Set specific financial goals

Let’s admit, college was all about setting career goals and accomplishing them. However, no one ever talked about financial goals. Financial goals deserve as much attention as any other goals!

You should have a clear picture in mind as to how much debt you intend to pay off each year, how much you want to save, and so on.

  1. Investing basics

Most of us aren’t very stock-market savvy, nor do we understand how stocks work, especially to help us build upon our financial investments. It is important to remember that all investment options have an element of risk. Some options are riskier than others. The key is to understanding stock market trends and how those trends correlate with a particular investment decision.

This is a prime example of something that we should have learned in college, but probably did not…

  1. Learn to savor

This might sound a bit off-topic, but believe us, this is one thing that can actually help you to better manage your finances.

You should learn to savor and appreciate what you already have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. This will help you avoid buying more than what you actually need and help you focus more on saving for the bigger and more meaningful things.

  1. Do not allow debt to accumulate

Regardless of the type of debt you have – credit cards, loans and the like—make it a point to pay them off as soon as possible. Allowing your debt to accumulate will only cause you to struggle financially later in life.

  1. Save up to 5 months of income

There is always a fair chance that you could lose your job, or your business might take longer to start up and become profitable. In either case, it is necessary that you have enough savings such that you can manage your living for at least 2-5 months.

  1. Track your spending

It is essential to track your spending every day, week, and month to ensure that you have enough to pay your bills. It is also t important to analyze where your money is going in order to keep your finances in check.

  1. Start investing early

It is important to begin investing early so that you have enough saved for your first home or retirement.

  1. Get into the habit of checking your accounts

Make it a habit to check your statements in order to avoid any unnecessary charges or fees. This includes all your statements – savings account, credit cards, and so on.

  1. Tax basics

Taxes are something we all have to deal with, but that isn’t taught in schools. Contrary to what most of the recent graduates think, income tax doesn’t only impact your paycheck or annual salary, you are also required to pay taxes on other income-generating things. This includes interest-bearing investment or bank accounts and real estate property sales.

  1. Do not buy everything

Only buy what is necessary. If you are often an impulse-buy kind of person, then avoid carrying cash, your credit or debit card when walking into stores or shopping online.

If you DO need to make a purchase, Giving Assistant offers a number of deals, discounts, and offers to purchase those every-day items.

Get a $5 cash bonus when you make your first online purchase through Giving Assistant at more than 4,000 online stores.

  1. Keep learning

You are never too old or too young to learn how to best manage your accounts for a healthy and wealthy financial future.

What tip do you wish you learned in college? Or, what lesson did you learn as a student that your classmates didn't?


Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.