6 Personal Finance Tips for College Students

It’s best to start your personal finance journey as early as possible. In fact, experts say that parents can and should start educating their children about finances as early as three years old. If you haven’t been groomed for financial success since a toddler, don’t worry.

Many of us didn’t start taking money seriously until college. College students often have a terrible reputation when it comes to managing their finances.

Partly because we’ve normalized financial irresponsibility for young adults. But more so because many college students just aren’t armed with the knowledge and resources they need to grow a positive financial landscape.

Luckily, you can better your finances as a college student if you’re willing. Let’s explore six personal finance tips for college students to put into action today.

Learn How to Create and Stick to a Budget

One of the most important personal finance tips for college students is to create and stick to a budget.

Creating a budget will help ensure all your expenses are paid on time each month. It also enables you to allocate your remaining funds to appropriate places, like your savings and investment accounts.

You can use a simple spreadsheet to create your budget or streamline your budgeting efforts with one of the many budgeting apps out there.

You also must consider how you’re going to stick with the budget you create. It’s one thing to write down how you’re going to manage your money each month, but actually doing so is another.

So, be sure to work on holding yourself accountable and taking complete ownership of improving your finances.

Furthermore, be sure to allocate funds to healthcare in your budget.

Be Sure to Include Healthcare in Your Budget

Healthcare is critical in college because students are vulnerable to mental health challenges like anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and substance abuse.

Healthcare is essential to budget for because you want to ensure you have the funds to enlist the help of a professional when needed, whether that be for mental health help, your annual checkup, or another medical need.

Also, budgeting for healthcare is helpful in college because there will be times when a visit to the emergency room or urgent care is your only option.

Unfortunately, urgent care and ER facilities are a lot more expensive than a visit to your regular doctor's office. So, it’s crucial first to determine whether urgent care is a viable option for treating you and have money set aside to cover the cost.

Our next personal finance tip for college students is to refrain from accumulating debt.

Refrain From Accumulating Debt

Now, you may have to take out student loans to cover your college expenses. However, you should absolutely refrain from accumulating additional debt like credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, and so forth.

If you have debt, one of the most productive things you can do with your money is get serious about paying it off. For instance, if you’re building your credit with a credit card, make it a point only to spend what you can pay off in full every month. If you can’t use the card responsibly, get rid of it until you can.

Also, it’s wise to know all you can about student loans and how to manage this type of debt productively.

Be Especially Knowledgeable About Student Loans

When in college, it’s imperative to educate yourself on all things student loans. As mentioned above, you’re likely going to take out a student loan to cover college expenses. So, it’s best to know things like:

  • Forbearance and deferment
  • When it’s appropriate to refinance student loans
  • What happens with your loans after graduation
  • How to pay on loans while in school
  • What your interest is and how it’s applied to your loan balance

The internet and your financial aid office on campus are great resources to grow your knowledge about student loans.

Another personal finance tip for college students is to conduct regular accounting of finances.

Conduct Regular Accounting of Your Finances

It’s easy to get behind in your finances without the added responsibility of college coursework. So, you can imagine how quickly one could fall into financial irresponsibility when they are attending college.

Conducting regular accounting of your finances helps you stay on top of things. Make it a point to review your budget, savings goals, and other financial information monthly.

Lastly, continually work on your money mindset.

Work on Your Money Mindset

Simply put, a productive personal finance journey starts in your mind. For instance, if you aren’t open to unlearning harmful money habits, you’ll remain limited financially.

On the other hand, if you’re open-minded and willing to learn all there is to know about personal finance, you’ll likely achieve financial freedom.

Work on your money mindset by:

  • Reading books, blogs, and other literature on personal finance
  • Learning from financially successful people
  • Not absorbing advice from people who aren’t where you want to be financially
  • Remaining cheerful through financial downtimes
  • Learning how to get creative when it comes to resources

Ultimately, you can create the financial future you want when you’re willing to unlearn bad financial habits, educate yourself on the best personal finance practices, and when you remain optimistic about all that comes with bettering your finances.


These tips are just the beginning of a long list of tangible personal finance tips to better your finances as a college student. To ensure you’re on track to achieve financial freedom after graduation, first, create a budget, live by it, and ensure healthcare is a substantial part of it.

Next, refrain from accumulating debt aside from student loans. In addition, be sure you’re incredibly knowledgeable about student loans to ensure you’re in the best position to pay them off once school is done.

Finally, conduct regular accounting of your finances and continually grow your money mindset to prepare for a solid financial future while in college.

Dan Matthews is a freelance writer with a penchant for financial wisdom and solid research. You can find him on Twitter @danielmatthews0 and LinkedIn.

Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.