From Freshman Year to Financially Independent: Tips for Managing Your Money

In our culture, nothing signifies adulthood more than having your own money. My entire life, my parents have told me that an adult is someone who has to work and pay bills. I’m now beginning to learn money management as a college student, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Here are some tips that have helped me along the way. 

4) Apply for scholarships/grants. Just because you already accepted a financial package doesn’t mean your opportunities for help are over. Check out WiSH to discover the UW-Madison scholarships you might qualify for, and search for grants in your major or program. Never turn down the opportunity to get free money! 

3) Make a budget. And stick to it. This takes a lot of trial and error to see what works for you, and budgeting looks different for everyone. There are lots of great apps out there, like Goodbudget, that can help you plan your spending.

2) Take out a credit card, but don’t go overboard. It’s better to start building good credit as soon as you can. Don’t tempt yourself by using it often and risking massive credit card debt; start by taking one monthly charge that you can pay off, like a Netflix or Amazon Prime bill. 

1) Join a local bank in Madison. This is important especially if you’re coming from out of state — you might not want to pay fees every time you need to use an ATM. UWCU offers packages for UW-Madison students and has locations on campus. 

If you want to know more practical money-tending tips, consider taking the 1-credit class Consumer Science 111.  

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