It’s hard to be a responsible college student these days. First, you have to show up to class every day. Second, you have to do your own laundry. Third, you have to try to do both of those for four years and leave without putting yourself in the poorhouse! It’s no wonder that every year, thousands of otherwise intelligent college graduates end up leaving school with not only a degree but a boatload of debt.
Why all that debt? In part because marketers and advertisers have overwhelmed and outworked college students. They make it easy to spend money, easy to get into debt, and when you have the rush of newfound freedom, as many college students do, it’s hard to be responsible when it’s so easy to be irresponsible. So, to help you along, here are five roadblocks you can put in front of yourself to keep you financially honest.
Freeze Your Credit Cards
The classic “money roadblock” that comes to everyone’s mind is to freeze your credit cards. All you do is get a container, fill it with water, put your cards in, and stick them in the freezer. You’ll want to do it in a way so that you can’t read the numbers through the ice, so you might want to wrap them in something first! The idea behind this trick is that it will take you time to get to your credit cards, whether you thaw it out or simply try to smash them out. Hopefully, the time it takes to get access to your credit will remind yourself why you did it in the first place.
Lock In Your Savings
The best way to lock away your savings is to put it in a certificate of deposit. The best CD rates are currently in the 2% APY range, so it’s not incredible, but locking it away will give you better than average returns on your saving and make it slightly harder to spend your savings. On a certificate of deposit, you usually pay 3 or 6 months of interest to break the CD early… hopefully that is enough to keep you from spending it.
Don’t Save Credit Card Numbers
The next time you buy something online, don’t have them save your credit card number. First, it’s safer if you don’t have them save it. If someone breaks into the vendor’s system, they could get access to your information. The second, and more important reason, is that it forces you to get your card each time you want to buy something. Amazon’s One-Click purchase program is brilliant because it takes away all those roadblocks – one click sounds easy right? It’s certainly easier than “add to card, get up and get your wallet/purse, get your credit card, enter in your credit card including security code, confirm purchase” program. 🙂
Use Online Savings Accounts
Must like the “lock in your savings” tip above, you can take advantage of high interest savings accounts much in the same way. By putting your savings in a savings account at an online bank, you make it slightly harder to access your funds. If your money is in an online bank, you have to transfer it to your checking account before you can spend it. That transfer can often take up to a week… which gives you time to think about your purchase. In addition to being a roadblock, the interest rates at online banks are typically higher so you get a little bonus as well.
Don’t Carry Cash
If you don’t carry cash and your credit cards are frozen in a block of ice, you can’t spend any money! I was hesitant to list this as a tip because I always advocate carrying a little bit of money in case of emergencies but if you’re always on campus, chances are you won’t need any cash. Any cash you do have will be cash you will spend.
What do you think of these tips? Do you use any yourself? Do you have a good one that I haven’t listed?