January 26, 2023 at 12:42 am

What Money Mistakes From College Still Haunt You? Here’s What People Said.

by Matthew Gilligan

Money mistakes you make when you’re young can really bite you and they can take a really long time to correct.

And hopefully, these stories that people shared about their own financial mistakes they made when they were in college can help out some other folks.

Take a look at what they had to say.

1. Loans.

“Not taking out student loans.

My family convinced me they would ruin my life, but once my savings ran out after one semester, I ended up taking on a ton of credit card debt just to get by.

Eventually, I took out loans during my junior year and was able to stop using my credit cards, but the interest was so high that I could never get it fully paid off.

I spent the first several months after college putting most of my income towards that debt but still couldn’t get it to zero and had no savings.

Ended up taking out a debt consolidation loan to at least lower the interest I was paying. I just finished paying that off four years later. I was so happy, until I learned that paying it off dropped my credit score 20 points. Yay.”

2. Should have taken control.

“I was extremely lucky to have a scholarship that paid more than half my tuition in college and my parents paid the other part.

But I wish I had taken more control of my finances and learned more from that instead of just using their money. It made me bury my head in the sand on a lot of my costs and bills.

I ended up having a credit card company take me to court. I’m happy to announce I now take full responsibility for myself and pay for all my bills and keep track of everything. It’s hard, but you can do it.”

3. Time off.

“My biggest regret is not taking a semester (or more) off when I needed it. I attended school out of state and taking time off would’ve really screwed up financial aid, so I pushed through.

I ended up practically destroying my mental health. I also took a bunch of summer classes and loaded up my schedule to get my four-year degree done in three years, partly to save money. If I could go back, I’d take my time. No amount of savings is worth the toll it took on my health.”

4. Uh oh.

“I got a credit card and I resolved to not use it, just keep it for emergencies. But one day I was a bit short on something and put like $20 on the card.

I didn’t check my mail all that often and had no idea how often they sent bills. Eventually, I checked my mail and sent in my payment, but it was late, and had already been reported to the credit agencies.

So I had to explain my ‘late credit’ mark when I went to get my first apartment, my first car loan, etc., and ended up paying higher rates for things for years. So don’t sleep on making payments, folks.”

5. Pre-approved.

“Getting credit cards because of those stupid ‘pre-approved’ letters.

I spent more money than I could pay off. I lost a job and ended up ruining my credit.

I also took out payday loans that took forever to get rid of and I wasted so much money re-upping them.”

6. Blew it.

“After paying off my classes and books with my financial aid money, I often had a good amount left over.

Instead of using that to go towards rent, groceries, or even paying back my student loans, I blew it on clothes, al**hol, dues for my fraternity, and gave the rest to my family back home. If I were more strategic, I wouldn’t have had to work three jobs and go to school full time.

I cannot stress enough that money management should be taught in school, especially to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Having access to $2,000 felt like I had won the lottery, with no guidance and on my own for the first time in my life.”

7. Screwed over.

“Be wary of group leases when you’re splitting the rent with your buds but all sending in your payments separately.

A former roommate inexplicably stopped paying rent for several months. At the end of our lease, the property management company informed my other two roommates and I that, unfortunately, with a group lease, we were all liable for it. They took the missed payments out of our deposits and charged us more to cover it all!

Fortunately, they knew that the fourth roommate had screwed us over. So the moment we paid the rest of the rent they supplied us with all of the proof we needed to take her to small claims court to get our money back.

With any rentals, especially college rentals, make sure to photograph everything wrong with your house/apartment/whatever at move-in, and email it to the property management or owner with a short description of each one, along with your lease dates and address.”

8. Astronomical.

“I was in an accelerated bachelor’s program and didn’t have time to work between classes and homework.

I took out a loan from Discover — it was advertised to me and I had their credit card. I was embarrassed about needing money and didn’t talk to family or anyone about options. I didn’t look around at all, just applied and accepted.

The interest rate was astronomical (even with excellent credit) — something I didn’t think about until I had to start paying it back. Every payment was about 90% interest. It would’ve taken forever to actually pay it off.

Shortly after I had to start making payments, I had a relative pass away and inherited enough to pay the whole balance off. I’ve learned to do my research and ask questions.”

9. That really sucks.

“Payday loans.

Even ones that tout themselves as ‘different from the other guys.’ I was a nursing student working as a CNA, washing my scrubs daily. My dryer broke and I didn’t have the immediate cash to buy a new one, so I did a payday loan to get it.

A $300 loan turned into a $5,000 debt within a couple of months. I could have just sucked it up and gone to a laundromat for a fraction of that.”

10. Spent it all.

“My grandparents passed away and left a large sum of money for each of us grandkids just before I went to college.

Trauma happened, and I ended up spending all that money frivolously. While it was a learning experience and unavoidable because it was a trauma response, I still terribly regret it.”

11. Didn’t know how…

“This may be obvious, but not learning how to save and opening up a savings account.

I really should have tucked money away way back then, but anything I had, I spent, living for the moment. It’s ‘just money.’

Well, in my line of work back then, it was feast or famine, and during the ‘feast,’ the gettin’ was good. I could have easily put away thousands. Learn how to save and budget, PLEASE.”

12. Forced.

“I felt forced to financially support my then-boyfriend for two years after he got kicked out of university.

He wanted to be the next Steve Jobs while I just wanted to graduate. He wouldn’t get a job to help out at all and said that if I ‘loved’ him I was supposed to endure until he got back on his own feet.

My family lived off government aid so I knew I couldn’t ask them. His family was financially better but he didn’t want to ask for help. So I took out more student loans (over $10K) and lived off my credit card and financial aid.

Needless to say, we argued a bunch. I wanted to stay in the city but he was going to stick to me like glue. I considered getting a job out of state but he wanted to follow me wherever I went. I couldn’t imagine supporting him any longer so after graduation I moved back to my tiny town. We broke up soon after.

He was my first boyfriend. It was very toxic and emotionally and financially draining. It still shows on my credit history. Honestly, I regret the whole thing. I felt so much relief when he finally let me go. I feel my life would be very different if we never dated.”

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