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How to Be More Financially Responsible in College

If you’re used to setting a budget as a college student, you’re already leagues ahead of the majority of young adults. It can be really hard to start managing your own finances, especially when you’ve likely spent most of your life living off of your parents’ dime. But the time has come to be financially responsible, and as the holiday season begins, it’s important to make sure you set a realistic budget and stick to it. Though it’s not fun to admit, every financial decision you make now can affect your credit score in the future- and you don’t want your bad choices haunting you in the real world! Here are some tips from Credit Karma at Vanderbilt on how to manage your finances in college & why your credit score actually matters. 

1. Take the time to map out the closest banks to you at school, especially if the bank you use back home has a location near Vanderbilt. $3 ATM fees on campus add up quickly when you withdraw cash every few weeks or months. 
2. Download your bank’s checking app, if they have one. Features like mobile deposit for checks and transferring money with the touch of a finger are extremely helpful without immediate access to a bank.
3. Pay yourself first- deposit money in your savings account or invest it right off the top of any paycheck before you pay bills or spend on personal expenses. 
4. Before applying for a new credit card, enter your information into a free credit score website like Credit Karma to receive predictions about how this will affect your credit score overall. While you might not think credit is important for you now, you’ll wish you had kept it in mind in the future when you’re trying to buy a house or car.
5. Read reviews of credit cards online to weigh different perks. Make a decision based on what you know about your spending habits. If you love redeeming rewards and getting discounts, maybe a card with a strong reward program is for you. If you’re not the best at paying your bills on time, perhaps grace periods for lateness are more important.
Stacey Oswald, originally from South Florida, came to Vanderbilt as a member of the class of 2015 and got involved with HerCampus her freshman year. She became assistant editor that year and is now the Campus Correspondent for Vanderbilt HC as a sophomore. Stacey is currently a columnist for Ask Miss A- Nashville and the life section of The Hustler. She's also very involved in her sorority, Kappa Delta, as well as Invisible Children. Outside of school and her extracurriculars, Stacey finds happiness in many sources, the most crucial being exercise and the sun. She loves to attend exercise classes and is an avid runner; she recently completed the Country Music Half Marathon. She also loves Vitamin D, especially when on the beach- though of course, she only soaks up the sun after applying SPF. A few of the things Stacey couldn't live without? Good food (especially from Sweet Cece's, Bricktops, and Samurai Sushi), great books (The Hypnotist's Love Story is a recent favorite), her family back in Florida, her wonderful boyfriend, and all of the great friends she's made at Vanderbilt.
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