Advice for Incoming
College Students:
A Grinnell Planpoll

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If you can save money, start a Roth IRA. Traditional IRAs are tax-exempt on the front end and Roth IRAs on the back end, so young people are better off with the Roth.

For people who are taking out loans, don't forget about them for four years only to be broad-sided upon graduation by the monthly payments you're going to have to make after your six-month grace period ends. Making money obviously shouldn't be the priority while you're in college, although lots of us do have to work through college. Most of the money I made during college just paid for whatever "expenses" I had aside from tuition. (And by expenses, I mean both things that I needed and things that, looking back, I didn't.) But I think I would have done some things differently if I had kept in mind a longer-term idea of what my financial situation would be after Grinnell. I would have tried to save something. It's easy to live in denial in a low-cost place like Grinnell, especially when you're just signing pieces of paper and they're giving you money. That's my party pooper advice.

I saved over $2,000 by taking the greyhound bus instead of flying. It took much longer, but it was worth it to me. Plus, it gave me about 20 hours to catch up on sleep in between school and vacations.

Pay bills on time. (Failure to do so will follow you forever and affect your credit rating.)

I wish my Tutorial professor had talked about how college students can really really *&%! up their futures by getting into credit card debt!!!!!! This article talks about the problem (there could be better articles, I just googled and found this one). Students can get into trouble with credit cards due to financial inexperience and the perception that because everybody uses credit cards, it must be no big deal to have credit card debt. If people are going to use credit cards, they should at least get into the habit of paying it off in full every month, not just paying the minimum. Please Please Please put the Fear of God into your tutees about credit cards!

Fareway is way cheaper than McNally's and only a block further away.

Don't buy your books by using your p-card. Instead, use cash or credit card so that if you find the same books cheaper from somewhere or someone else, you can get a return and your money back versus money just being refunded to your account that you can't use.

Start an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

It's really expensive to fly out of Des Moines. If possible, Cedar Rapids and Omaha are a lot cheaper. (Ed. note: so is Moline/Quad Cities, and it's closer than Omaha.)

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