Personal Finance for College Students
Free Financial Literacy Resources for College Students
College presents a unique time in a young person’s life where financial literacy education is particularly important. Our resources for college students cover a number of important topics faced by young people who may be living on their own for the first time. These personal finance resources also lay the groundwork for major decisions that happen shortly after college graduation – like buying a home, a car and managing credit and debt.
Lesson One: The Art of Budgeting
A personal budget is a financial plan that allocates future income toward expenses, savings, and debt repayment. “Where does the money go?” is a common dilemma faced by many individuals and households when it comes to budgeting and money management. Effective money management starts with a goal and a step-by-step plan for saving and spending. Financial goals should be realistic, be specific, have a timeframe, and imply an action to be taken. This lesson will encourage students to take the time and effort to develop their own personal financial goals and budget.
Lesson Two: Living on Your Own
As young people grow up, a common goal is to live on their own. However, the challenges of independent living are often quite different from their expectations. This lesson provides a reality check for students as they investigate the costs associated with moving, obtaining furniture and appliances, and renting an apartment.
Lesson Three: Buying a Home
For many, buying a home is the single most important financial decision they will make in their lifetime. However, the process of becoming a first-time homebuyer can be overwhelming, and requires a foundation for basic home-buying knowledge. This lesson will provide students with information on buying a home and where and how to begin the process. After comparing the differences between renting and buying, students will be introduced to a five-step process for home buying. This framework provides an overview for the activities involved with selecting and purchasing a home.
Lesson Four: Credit
In today’s world, credit is integrated into everyday life. From renting a car to reserving an airline ticket or hotel room, credit cards have become a necessary convenience. However, using credit wisely is critical to building a solid credit history and maintaining fiscal fitness. While most students have a general idea about the advantages and disadvantages of credit, this lesson provides an opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail.
Lesson Five: Credit Cards
What is APR? What is a grace period? What are transaction fees? These and other questions will be answered in this lesson as students learn about credit cards, and the different types of cards available and features of each, such as bank cards, store cards, and travel and entertainment cards. As students start to shop for their first (or next) credit card, this lesson will make them aware of various costs and features. Included in this section is a discussion of the methods for calculating finance charges.
Lesson Six: Cars and Loans
“Should I buy a new car or a used car?” “Where is the best place to finance my automobile purchase?” “Is it better to take the rebate or the low-rate financing plan?” These are typical questions asked by people buying vehicles. In this lesson, students are asked to identify costs associated with owning and operating a motor vehicle. Since these costs are commonly underestimated, guidelines are provided on how much to spend when buying vehicles.
Lesson Seven: Consumer Awareness
Decisions, decisions. With so many choices available to us, how can we be sure we’re making the right decision? Wise consumer buying starts with a plan. Using a systematic purchasing strategy will provide students with an ability to make more effective purchases. Comparative shopping techniques will be discussed to encourage students to carefully consider price, product attributes, warranties, and store policies. Next, this lesson covers a variety of buying methods, such as buying clubs, shopping by phone, catalogs, online, and door-to-door selling.
Lesson Eight: Saving and Investing
Saving just 35 cents a day will result in more than $125 in a year. Small amounts saved and invested can easily grow into larger sums. However, a person must start to save. This lesson provides students with a basic knowledge of saving and investing. The process starts with setting financial goals. Next, a commitment to saving is discussed.
Lesson Nine: Trouble
The material in this lesson will help students become aware of the warning signs of financial difficulties.
Lesson Ten: Consumer Privacy
In today’s information age, keeping your personal financial information private can be challenging. What you put on an application for a loan, your payment history, where you make purchases, and your account balances are but a few of the financial records that can be sold to third parties and other organizations. This lesson will discuss how public and private records are accessed and used by various organizations, as well as review privacy laws to protect your information.
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