Monument Wealth Management Articles

How To Manage Money in College

Jun 05, 2024 FAQs

Share on your favorite platform, or by email

For years, your mission in life was to get into college. Now that you’ve cleared that hurdle, it’s time for some more grown-up goals, like how to manage money in college. It’s time to prove that when you graduated from high school, you also graduated from the Bank of Mom and Dad (BOMAD).

Going to college and managing your own money is going to test the skills you learned by having an allowance when you were little. Still, some of you may be surprised to realize how much your parents helped you regulate your purchases or funded most of them even as recently as high school. It is possible that the BOMAD is no longer open for business but, even if it is, do you really want to go there?

NO. Don’t approach the BOMAD except in an extreme emergency.

Here’s what you need to do to make it on your own:

1) Earn money

Your biggest asset now and going forward is your ability to work. Get a summer job and save for school. Plan to work during school breaks to replenish your bank account. Once you have the hang of living away from home and managing your studies, work part-time during school. Explore the career counseling center at your school for internship and future job opportunities. Having a job forces you to structure your time rather than waste it, and money coming in reduces the need to go crawling back to the BOMAD.

2) Pay yourself first

Start this habit now. Every month, before you pay your bills, sock some money away into a savings or investment account. Birthday money from Aunt Martha? Sock it away. Got a raise? Sock it away! You’ll never miss it, and this is a habit that will help you pay as you go for vacations and fun stuff without the temptation of debt. Need help setting up an account? It is okay to ask questions at the BOMAD about this… they will be impressed and happy to help you.

3) Stick to a budget

Budgeting is not very fun, but it is one of the best ways to avoid a visit to the BOMAD. Temptations are everywhere, and you may find that some of your friends may have a different and more lenient arrangement with their BOMAD. But stay strong! There are free and fun things to do in college, student discounts on everything, and school services to help you find work, apply for scholarships and financial aid, manage debt and so on. Take full advantage of all of these.  As they say on SNL, “Don’t buy stuff you cannot afford!”

4) Minimize debt

You may have had to take on loans to go to college. Use this money wisely, like for classes and not spring break, and don’t take on additional debt. Be careful with credit cards including any credit card you got from the BOMAD. Debt, especially credit card debt, makes unpleasant trips to the BOMAD much more likely and will follow you for a very long time.

5) Build good credit

Start off right by paying all bills on time every time. One bad decision to skip a payment can stay on your credit report for 7 years… almost twice as long as your college career. Using your budget should make it easier to do this. When you’re a pro at managing your budget and it gets closer to graduation, then consider getting your own credit card. The BOMAD may have already given you a credit card to help you build your credit history, but the BOMAD may also be making all the payments for you. If this is the case, you aren’t on the hook quite the way you would be if it was your own card. Practice paying that balance off to the BOMAD every month.

A history of using credit wisely will result in a good credit score and help you when you go to buy a car or rent an apartment on your own. When you’re ready to get your own card, choose one with no fee and a modest credit limit, buy groceries on it once a month, then pay it off completely each time. Before you know it, you’ll have a good credit rating and no debt. And you know what that means? No BOMAD!

6) Ask for help if you need it

Big unexpected expense? Job fall through? Not sure how to file your taxes? Or do you have a decision you’re unsure of? While we’ve spent this article talking about avoiding the BOMAD except in dire situations, it actually can be good to go to the BOMAD or another trusted source for advice. Even if you feel embarrassed, don’t hide a question or a problem…financial problems grow in the dark. Your BOMAD or other financial mentor will appreciate your maturity and willingness to problem-solve.

So that’s it! You have four years as a college student to develop sound money management habits using these six practices. You won’t have to hit up BOMAD for money due to immaturity, inexperience, or lack of planning. The BOMAD won’t have to deal with constant requests from you. Everyone will be happy! And your start on the road to financial independence is priceless!

Cathleen D. photo

Cathleen D. Phelps

Client Experience Manager

Cathleen has two big drivers-–a challenge and a love of learning. She cannot resist a challenge or a problem to solve, and cannot rest until she’s conquered it. Every morning, Cathleen runs or works out at Crossfit for an energy boost that gets her mind awake and going, ready to face whatever the day brings. She admits there’s always something that needs figuring out, and if she needs to learn something new to do it, that’s even better!

Learn more ...

Subscribe to Monument #Unfiltered – It’s Free!

Get our straightforward, no B.S. wealth advice delivered straight to your inbox no more than 2x per month. Specifically tuned for high-net-worth business professionals and investors. Unsubscribe anytime with 1-click.


Please remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Monument Capital Management, LLC [“Monument”]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Monument. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. No amount of prior experience or success should be construed that a certain level of results or satisfaction will be achieved if Monument is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Monument is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.

A copy of Monument’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request or at Please Note: Monument does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Monument’s website or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.  It should not be assumed that your Monument account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories. Please Also Note: (1) performance results do not reflect the impact of taxes; (2) comparative benchmarks/indices may be more or less volatile than your Monument accounts; and, (3) a description of each comparative benchmark/index is available upon request.

Please Remember: If you are a Monument client, please contact Monument, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services.  Unless, and until, you notify us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. Please Also Remember to advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.