College is the perfect time to start being smart with your money. If you start saving and being responsible now, it can save you a lifetime of pain and debt later on! We’ve rounded up some financial experts to share their advice.

Understand Your Student Loans

Recognize and understand the amount of debt you are taking on for your degree.  A general rule is that don’t take more college student loan than your expected first year of college. While that is good, it is all important for the student to understand the nature of the debt. When it will require to be repaid.  If someone cosigned understand that person could end up paying for your loan.  Understand different repayment choices which depend on which type of loan you took out.  Finally recognizing the burden and that burdens impact on the future life, and consider ways to limit the costs.  – Scott Vance, Trisuli Financial Advising
If you have the opportunity, pay off some of your student loans while you’re in school. Even if you can only pay a little bit on them, the compounding interest on your debts will grow over the next 10-20 years, (the average time it takes to pay off loans) and paying some of that now will save you a ton in interest in the future. Paying on student loans is one of the things that recent college grads say is scary about finances, but taking the initiative to pay now makes a huge difference later in life. – Jaycob Arbogast, Arbogast Advisers LLC

Learn How to Budget

“Budgeting” is not a popular word,and scares many college students. But budgeting is the No. 1 way to manage money. The key is to create the budget around the goals you set. And know that budgeting need not be complicated. While plenty of budgeting and finance software is available on the market, people can just as easily make, and keep track of, a budget with paper and pencil, or a spreadsheet. – Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations with Freedom FinancialNetwork, LLC

Set Goals

It’s hard to really get finances in order, and decide what to spend and what to save without goals. Write down your goals, which might range from a vacation in Europe to having time to train for a marathon. You’ll modify these goals throughout life – sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes annually – but keeping them front of mind will help guide finances in that first year after college, and throughout life. – Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations with Freedom Financial Network, LLC

Start Building Your Credit Score

“If you haven’t already start early building your credit score by applying for a credit card and being responsible. Establishing a good payment history will help build your credit score and acquire more favorable terms when you negotiate credit in the future. It is good to pay credit cards off each month online so you are guaranteed the credit card company receives it before the due date. Most credit cards offer rewards such as cash back or travel award points. Compare the rewards with the annual fees. There are some with no fees and offer rewards as well, do your homework.” – Winnie Sun, Managing Director and Founding Partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners

Get in the Habit of Saving

Money is usually tight in college. Get in the habit of saving something, even if it is 5% on the money that flows through your hands. No matter how tight money is, be sure to consistently save something, even if it’s a token amount so that you get into the habit of savings. – Douglas Carpenter, Crosstex International Inc.
Include a category in the budget for savings. Allocate a percent – 10 percent, more if possible, less if necessary – to save from every paycheck. Choose a percent that you will stick to. With each check received (whenever that is and wherever the check comes from), set aside a pre-determined percentage, based on your budget, for savings and investment (think about those goals you set). – Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations with Freedom FinancialNetwork, LLC

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Christianna Hurt
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