How I Managed Money in College

13 Feb

Guys. TODAY IS AN EXCITING DAY! I’m doing my first ever guest post swap. Head over to Daisy’s blog (after you read this, of course!) to check out my post about things I wish I knew in college :)


AND!  Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point (one of my first ever blog obsessions) is featuring my guest post about how to get started budgeting!  So if you haven’t gotten enough of me on this blog, check out those lovely ladies’ sites for more ;)



Hello! I’m Daisy Bun over at Full-thyme Student. I’m a recent college grad, and I develop delicious and easy recipes for full-time college students (haha, get it? ;) ) on a budget. Even if you’re not a student, you can make my dishes on any night, even with exams or a big presentation the next day! One of my ultimate goals is to help young adults become happy financial geniuses, whether it involves cooking on a budget or having fun with pocket change!


college fund{via}


I learned a lot of things in college. I learned how to cram for finals, pull all-nighters, cook on a budget, and have lots of fun on the side. But I never thought I’d have to learn how to manage money on my own. Believe it or not, there really is no “Adulthood 101: How to Manage your Life and Finances” class in college. So, I chose to take accounting classes to learn about how to manage my money like a smart adult.


I’ve always been kind of obsessed with finance and making smart financial choices. Call me a nerd, but I spent my Saturday afternoons watching Suze Orman and learning about people’s bad financial choices (and basically made me never want to be one of them). One of the biggest things I learned in college was to live within my means.


When you’re living in an apartment or dorm room the size of a shoebox, have bills to pay and groceries to buy, you really can’t afford to shop til you drop. Like many people in college, I got my first credit card as a student and I always made sure that I didn’t rely on it. If you plan on using a credit card and don’t have a plan for paying it back in a timely manner, you should seriously consider cutting that credit card in half. In college, I always knew how to have fun but also save some money on the side to splurge on weekend trips. Saving money is one of the most important lessons you will ever learn in life. But to avoid being an annoying penny-pincher, the best thing you can do for yourself is to open a Roth IRA account.


One assignment I had for an accounting class in college was to print out an application for a Roth IRA. Sounds like a weird assignment, right? I thought the same, but it was worth about 10% of my grade! This accounting professor was very adamant that her 150+ students in Introductory Accounting learned how to make smart money choices.


If you have a job in college, you should highly consider opening a Roth IRA account. Don’t fret — you can withdraw the money you contribute to this account whenever you want without paying taxes or a penalty. But once you invest your money and you have earnings, you cannot withdraw those investment earnings without paying a hefty penalty. So… just don’t withdraw the earnings!


In a Roth IRA, you put after-tax money in and when you turn 59 1/2, you can withdraw that money without paying any taxes. That’s the beauty of the Roth IRA. Basically, your after-tax money is your paycheck… you’ve already paid taxes on it, so that money is all yours. If you’ve contributed to a Roth IRA account ever since you were a college student, as soon as you’re the ripe age of 59 1/2, you don’t have to pay taxes on this money again (because seriously, double taxation sucks) So each year, just put a fraction of that away and put it in your Roth IRA and forget about it.


Check out this site to learn about how much money you can put in your Roth IRA (you can contribute a maximum of $5,500 if you’re a traditional single college student), contribution deadlines, and other benefits!


In sum, the best things you can do in college with no regrets are smart financial decisions: don’t use a credit card like it’s your debit card and open a Roth IRA account as soon as you earn money!



Did you follow Daisy’s tips when you were (or if you still are!) in college?

I had a credit card which I definitely used sparingly… but no Roth IRA.  That would have been smart!


10 Responses to “How I Managed Money in College”

  1. Melissa @ Mel's Miles February 13, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Great tips! I had a credit card in college and I remember my dad badgering me about opening a Roth IRA. I’m a grad student now and have a 401k through work. Not sure if I should also have a Roth IRA, but I don’t have much extra money to put in there anyway due to paying out of pocket for school. I suppose it’s better not to take out loans at this point :)
    Melissa @ Mel’s Miles recently posted…My Experience as an Ice SkaterMy Profile

    • Ashley February 13, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Yeah, I’d say paying for grad school without a loan wins!! That’s awesome! :)

  2. Sweta February 13, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    I enjoyed your post on HTP,I hope Caitlin asks you back. If you haven’t already, you should read the book “Financially Fearless” by Alexa von Tobel she talks a lot about the 50-30-20 method.

    • Ashley February 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Thanks Sweta, so glad you liked it!! No I haven’t read that book yet- I’ll definitely add it to my to-read list! Thanks for the suggestion :)

  3. Traci February 13, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    I came here from Healthy Tipping Point and will look forward to reading more of your posts…I’m always into thrifty living and thinking more carefully about finances.

    • Ashley February 14, 2014 at 9:44 am #

      Hey Traci! Thanks so much for commenting! :) BTW I just clicked over to your website- SO CUTE! I love it.

  4. Debbie M February 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Back in my day, Roth IRAs had not yet been invented and they didn’t want to give college students credit cards (until your last year–then gas stations would).

    Heck I had trouble even getting a checking account. At the first bank I went to, I was told that “checking accounts are for adults.” Admittedly, I looked 12. Still, I turned around and moved on to the next bank.

    The things I did right were:
    * never bounce a check (except that first one)
    * never pay bank fees (get only free checking accounts, for example)
    * take out the fewest loans I could and live super cheaply
    * have roommates

    I didn’t feel I could afford to contribute to retirement plans or to make charitable contributions until I had a real job. Heck, I only went to free movies and would walk rather than take a $0.25 bus, even to and from the grocery store in the snow. My biggest expenditure was a knapsack, which I considered to be an investment. I learned to pay attention to where every penny went.

    I did start contributing the max to Roth IRAs as soon as they were invented, though. Love those things!

    • Ashley February 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

      No way!! Only gas stations would give you credit cards? and only in your last year?! Wow, I kind of wish it was still like that!

      I totally agree with the things you did right- especially just living super cheaply! And oh gosh, paying attention to where every penny goes… I wish more people did that!

      • Debbie M February 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

        Well, I never saw people on campus trying to get people to sign up for credit cards. But I did get a few applications in the mail my last year for gas cards. (This was 1976-1980.)

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  1. 5 Ways to Save Money in College | Full-thyme Student - February 13, 2014

    […] week, I wrote a guest post on fellow blogger Ashley’s website, Saving Money in your Twenties. (She’s awesome, and […]

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