Take a loan, but spend it wisely!

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College can be a tough time.

You’re out on your own for the first time, but you don’t have a real job yet. Unfortunately, it’s a time a lot of college kids start to rack up debt. And sometimes the debt stays with them way too long.

According to CNNmoney, college kids are looking at an average of $35,200 in debt upon graduation. This may be a combination of credit card debt, student loans and money borrowed from family; either way, it’s a lot.

What can college students do to avoid the over use of credit cards?

Fortunately, the percentage of this amount that is attributed to credit cards is fairly small, the average is about $3,000 of credit card debt. For many students, however, the numbers are much higher.

The best way to tackle this is to watch spending in college, before the debt piles up. But, as the article “What is the average American credit card balance?” points out, the average American household owes at least $7,000.With that in mind, use your college years to steer clear of credit card debt.

Here are some saving tips, and hopefully some of these can keep you away from credit card use (and overuse):

Buy used text books instead of new – Sure, new ones have that lovely smell and nothing’s highlighted in them, but you can save substantially by buying used.

Ride your bike – If you have car, only use it only when you have to. You can save a lot on gas, and that often gets charged to a credit card. Also think about public/campus transportation.

Keep your receipts – It’s easy to forget what you’ve spent on credit cards, and then the end of the month brings an unwanted surprise. By keeping your receipts, you can stay on top of your spending better. You can also see what you’re spending your money on and what you can cut back on.

Look for student discounts – Often, theaters, museums and even clothing stores offer discounts for students. It never hurts to ask.

Work – Maybe you can’t don’t have the time to work full or even part time, but you could bring in extra money by tutoring, teaching music lessons, babysitting, house sitting … there’s a lot to do for a student to make a bit of cash.

The hard part of credit card debt is the habit it has of sneaking up on you. The best way to beat it is to not accrue it. If you do need a credit card, do smart, comparison shopping and find one with the lowest rate you can. Try to pay it off every month, too. How nice it would be to graduate debt free!

About the Author: Heather Legg is a writer who focuses on education, small business and social media.

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