We all have those moments where we think about what we wish we had known when we were (fill in the blank). I have a lot of those moments. Some of the things I wish the past version of me knew are things that would’ve been impossible to know without being clairvoyant. However, there are some things that if I had just had enough sense to think about or if someone had been kind enough to tell me (as if I would listen), I would’ve been better off today. A few of the things I wish I knew when I was in college or even right before college are finance related and I’ve decided to share them with you guys.
Be Aware of Your Student Loans
I took out loans without truly knowing what it was I was borrowing. I saw amounts, but I didn’t pay attention to things like whether or not they were subsidized or unsubsidized. I borrowed whatever I could get and never gave them a second thought until around graduation when I started receiving emails about how I was going to enter repayment status soon. Until that moment, I was not truly aware of how much I owed, so you can imagine the shock on my face when I finally got a look at my debt. I think I handled it fine in the end, but I can only imagine how much better off I would be if I paid more attention to what I was borrowing and didn’t keep saying I’ll worry about it later.
Get a Credit Card
I never thought about my credit score. That was grown up stuff. Now I wish I had established credit sooner. Luckily, my student loans did that for me, but eventually those will fall off my credit report. I also think about how much money I could’ve saved with cash back and rewards for students. There is the possibility that I wouldn’t have been as responsible with my money and credit cards back then as I am now which could’ve lead to me losing more money than I actually earned. So maybe everything happens for a reason.
College Students Get Discounts
This I knew about, but didn’t always take advantage of. A lot of places have discounts for college students even if they don’t advertise it. All you need is your student ID. It can’t hurt to ask whenever you go out somewhere if there is a student discount. Use it while you can because you won’t get discounted this much again until you’re a senior citizen.
Don’t Procrastinate When It Comes to Job Hunting
I waited until the last minute to start job hunting. I didn’t start until right before graduation using the excuse that no one would hire me if I’m still in the middle of my last semester. Not true. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future. And it can take months, if not years, to find a decent job. I’m lucky that it only took me 3 months to find a job in my field, but I felt pressured to take that job because it was difficult finding anything else. I also had a low salary, but thankfully I moved up like the Jeffersons.
Start Saving Money ASAP
This is just something good to do no matter what stage of life you are in. Life happens. Having money stashed away can’t hurt. Like I said before, it’s never too early to start thinking about your future (a common theme in this post) so if you can save some money while you are in college, do it. This is especially true if your parents are still helping to support you and it is easier to save up the money you’ve earned. It might be harder to accomplish this once you are out in the real world and people expect you to support yourself.
There’s a Scholarship For Pretty Much Everything
Just because you aren’t some musical, academic, athletic, etc. prodigy, doesn’t mean there aren’t scholarships for you. There are so many scholarships for even the smallest of things and if you start applying for a lot of them you could save up a nice sum for college. You can also find scholarships while you are currently in college. You just have to be proactive (which I wasn’t). I thought my student loans were good enough to pay for school, which shows just how much I wasn’t thinking about the effect they could have on my future. Silly me.
Now for the fun part. I want you guys to help me build this list. Those of you reading this that are in the middle of college or out of college, leave a comment below about what you wish you had known when you were applying for or attending college. I would prefer finance related things, but if you have some really good advice for future and current college students that are not finance related feel free to share it. I will be updating this list constantly and including the advice I like best from the comments section along with the commenter’s name. So please help out future generations of graduates with your wisdom.