Economist cites must-read for college freshmen

Gloria Nye  |  7/10/2008 7:43:10 PM

Back-to-School News Distributed 07/11/08

Many of you already may have talked to your soon-to-be college freshmen about the importance of avoiding drugs, but have you talked to them about the importance of avoiding debt?

“Perhaps you don’t think of yourself as being competent enough to teach this topic to your teen, but you can get free expert help to guide your college student along the path to developing good money management skills and achieving financial independence,” said LSU AgCenter family economist Dr. Gloria Nye.

ScholarShop and the National Endowment for Financial Education offer a free, online publication, “40 Money Management Tips Every College Freshman Should Know.”

“This publication should be required reading for anyone going off to college this fall,” Nye said. “In fewer than 50 pages, it gives your student a crash course in money management.”

Topics covered include goal-setting, record keeping, checking accounts, ATMs and checks, financial aid, scams, loan obligations, work-study jobs, looking for jobs, meal plans, snacks, computers, discussing money issues, dorm versus apartment costs, roommate ground rules, peer pressure, distinguishing between needs and wants, student discounts, car expenses, spending leaks, spending plans, good credit, avoiding credit card pushers, keeping friends and money separate, debt management, saving habits, investing, net worth and more.

For example, if a student decides he or she must have a credit card, it offers several ways to maintain control:

– Keep only one major credit card. Shop around for a card with no annual fee, a low interest rate, and a 20- to 30-day grace period. You can shop online for the best credit card deal at

– Consider a card that’s secured by a bank deposit, meaning you have enough in a savings account to equal the credit limit of the card. This can help build a good credit history.

– Except for real emergencies, don’t charge anything you can’t pay in full this billing period. (Emergencies don’t include new clothes or eating out.)

– Mail the payment several days before the due date so you aren’t charged a late fee.

– Think of your credit card as a loan, and don’t buy anything you would not take out a loan to buy.

– Subtract credit card purchases from the running balance you keep for your checking account so you have enough to pay the bill.

– Do not take cash advances on your credit card. You’ll pay a fee, and interest charges will accrue immediately.

Remind your student not to loan a credit card to anyone, not even a good friend or roommate. It does not matter who uses the card, he or she will still be responsible for paying the bill.

As a final note, the booklet points out that money is important but it’s not everything. It’s only a tool to help you get where you want to go.

“Good friends, strong values and work you enjoy count for more than all the money in the world,” it concludes. The book is available online at

For related family economics and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page at For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
On the Internet: Smart About Money: Contact. Gloria Nye at (225) 578-1727 or 
Editor: Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or

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