So what is it that makes a Money Smart Student? I've been asked that question a few times. There are many other PF writers who have their own opinions, and I respect that. There are some who argue that doing the things I talk about on this blog don't make a difference. They say that saving a few bucks here and there takes all the fun out of living the college life and doesn't add up to much in the long run. I've already discussed the numbers in a previous post (Do The Small Things Really Matter?), so I won't belabour the point here. Being a Money Smart Student, or young adult, isn't just about saving money when you can by doing the little things. It's about having an overall knowledge of money matters, staying connected to your own finances, and having a plan for both during, and after, school.
In this day and age, it is easier than ever to find out everything you need to know about money. How to make more money, how to spend less on anything and everything, how to save money, where to save your money...the list goes on and on. I will once again throw out there that the Wisebread website is one of the best resources I've found when it comes to money. Not only do they have their own posts and information - they also maintain a list of the best PF blogs available. You can even search by different categories to find whatever specific money issue you need. It's a great place to start to get informed about handling your money. Having at least a basic understanding of finances will help you many times over in the long run.
Along with having a general knowledge, it is even more important that you have an in-depth knowledge of your own finances. How much you have, how much you need, where it's going to come from, how you can bring in more - you MUST be constantly connected to your own personal finance situation. Losing touch was one of the main factors in my financial demise years ago. If I had stayed on top of my money I know I could have worked my way through the hard times and avoided the disaster which ended up taking place. This is, in my humble opinion, the most important aspect of being a Money Smart Student. Know your own financial situation better than anything else. If you know where you stand, you can handle the hiccups along the way much easier.
Finally - have a plan. Don't wait until the end of the current school year to plan for next year. Get your FAFSA paperwork done early if you are an American student. Don't leave it until the last minute. As you near the end of your education, start planning for life after college. As you enter the workforce, what is your plan to save some money for when you have a family? Thinking a step or two ahead of wherever you are at the moment will make it easier to adjust things along the way.
I don't want this to sound too preachy. I just want you to understand that it takes a bit of work to be completely Money Smart. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. Educate yourself about money, push yourself to stay connected to your financial status, and think ahead. These are the building blocks to being Money Smart - not just as a student, but throughout your entire life. Cheers!
What steps are you taking to stay 'Money Smart'? What else do you feel is important for students, or young adults, to know about finances? I would love to have your comments.