Budgeting for Life After High School: Financial Considerations for College-Bound Students

May 29, 2023

Students entering college in Fall 2023 have two major financial challenges to confront:

  • The stress of newfound financial independence

College students have tons of newfound independence. While that can be exciting, it can also get overwhelming at times. Finances especially can be a major stressor for students. In fact, studies show that financial stress can impact academic performance. Careful financial planning enables students to perform well academically while also enjoying a few of the most exciting years of their lives.

  • Saving for early retirement in a challenging market

Additionally, surveys show that retirement savings are a top goal for Gen Zers – with many aiming to retire early. Bringing that goal to life will require ample financial planning. Plus, an additional stream of income (aka side hustle) wouldn’t hurt!

Young adults can make a significant impact on their long-term financial wellness by taking action early. By crafting a clear financial plan, college students can enjoy their independence while laying the groundwork for their future.

In this blog, we tackle a few of the big financial decisions young adults must make during the transition into college. Get insight on how to strike a balance between saving for long-term goals and spending on fun college experiences.

Financial Planning for College Students

Consider your long-term financial goals and start thinking strategically about where you keep your money and how you spend it. Here is how to approach some of the biggest financial decisions you’ll be making as you branch out on your own.

Saving money in college: it’s all about where you keep it

As you start college and take charge of your finances, you should take a look at your current financial situation. Ask yourself a few questions to determine if there are opportunities to make your money work harder.

  • Where are you keeping your savings?
  • Do you need to maintain access to all of your savings?
  • What is your current interest rate?
  • Are there more competitive options available to you?

Whether you’re starting from scratch or have an established savings account, where you keep it matters.

In fact, high-yield savings accounts like money markets and certificates of deposit can make your savings work harder. Learn more about how to leverage high-yield savings options to achieve long-term financial goals.

Building credit responsibly: leverage student-friendly resources

Financial independence also means access to credit cards. Building credit is essential to achieving long-term financial goals like buying a car or house. A good credit history can also be significant if you need to refinance your student loans post-college.

Maintaining good credit through young adulthood puts you in a good financial position later in life. Beginner credit cards offer a responsible way for students to build good credit habits without overspending.

Learn more about SECU’s beginner credit cards.

Budgeting for college students: talk to an expert

Whether your income streams consist of a part-time job, a supportive loved one, or a side hustle, you need to create a budget. SECU offers members resources like our online budgeting tool, so people can track their spending and reach financial goals. College students can also benefit from personalized financial advice from SECU member advisors.

Saving money for long-term goals like retirement may seem impossible for a college student. Fortunately, our member advisors love a challenge. We can help you make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime college experience while also working towards your future.

Check out our Member Advisor Q&A to learn what you can expect during a meeting with our team. Schedule an appointment with a financial wellness expert to talk about how you can start saving for your future.

Paying for school: explore local resources

One of the biggest decisions you have to make is how to pay for college. Every student has different resources available to them, but scholarships and financial aid reduce the burden of tuition. Exhaust all these options before turning to student loans.

Many local organizations, including SECU through the SECU MD Foundation, offer scholarships. Networking and research can help you unearth opportunities to support your education.

Achieve academic and financial success with SECU

As Maryland’s largest credit union and official partner of the University of Maryland, SECU is uniquely committed to driving financial success for local young people. We pride ourselves on helping Maryland students build their financial futures by offering student-friendly financial resources.

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