The future may seem a long time off, but preparing for it now, and developing the tools to do so effectively, can make your days later in life a lot easier.

So, we’ve put together seven pieces of financial advice for all students to help prepare them for life both after college and after retirement!

Get Smart

You’re already at college. That makes this the perfect time to become financially literate. It’s not just about saving money or making a budget; it’s about understanding what a 401k or Roth IRA are. It’s understanding how the stock market works, how to actually put together a budget sheet.

Becoming financially literate doesn’t have to be hard nor is it something you have to learn overnight.

Google Personal Finance advice. Search for personal finance podcasts. Maybe your college even offers a course in personal finance.

Like everything else in life, understanding is the first step to success.

Avoid Debt

The best way to get out of debt is to never be there in the first place. Avoid credit card debt, student loan debt, car loan debt, etc.

All of it.

The goal is to graduate and enter the working world with as little debt as possible so as not to feel the financial pressure it can put upon you.

We understand it’s impossible for most people to avoid ALL debt. That’s why it’s important to acquire debt wisely and only when necessary. If you have to take out a loan -- be it for school or a car or some other vital purchase -- do your homework first. All loans are not created equal and you need to be smart with the debt you acquire. Compare things like interest rate and repayment terms.

Get a Student Credit Card

A credit card can be beneficial, especially when it comes to building good credit. But remember it’s not free money. You have to pay it all back and the longer it takes you to do so, the more it will cost.

So, if you’re going to get a credit card, consider a student credit card. They usually have a lower credit limit and some offer rewards and other benefits every time you use them.

Consider shopping around to find the card that’s best for you.

Set a Budget

Ok. This is the easiest one to talk about and often the hardest one for students to stick with.

But, there’s a reason it’s one of the first steps in every financial advice article you read. It’s important to know how much money is coming in and how much is going out if you want to have financial success.

It’s about planning for today, the week, the month, the year, and retirement years in the future (if that’s something you’re interested in). 

Living on a budget doesn't mean you can never have any fun, it means the fun you do have won't prevent you from paying the bills.

Sit down and track out all of your monthly expenses - tuition, room and board/rent, supplies, phone, car payments, insurance, haircuts, food, etc. Now you know two important things; how much you can save and how much you have to have fun.

You can use a spreadsheet or a budgeting app to help keep track of things.

Get a Job

Yes, college is a lot of work. Then there’s your social life to consider. But it’s a good idea to start getting used to the idea of a busy schedule now.

Start by looking for something on campus. Most colleges have work-study programs that allow you to create a work schedule around your class schedule.

There are always off-campus jobs in town. Most businesses in college towns thrive off of the student workforce, are used to working around their class schedules, and can offer part-time positions.

Or you can find a good side hustle. These days people are earning money on social media, with their art, or by using the skills they’re learning in school which can give you a leg up when you start applying for jobs after graduation.

Be a Student

Did you know that as a student, you have access to a lot of discounts and freebies? Make the most of it while you can!

Things like free gym memberships, free transportation, discounts on streaming services, websites and subscriptions, clothing, laptops and software, zoos, festivals, museums, and much more!

When you’re shopping for something, check out the businesses’ websites to look for discounts or just contact them and ask beforehand.

Pay Yourself First

Ok, final thing and this one is big. Pay yourself.

Treat yourself -- your savings, your future -- like a bill you owe each month. Take from what you earn and stick into a savings account or a retirement plan and leave it alone.

It can be hard to just have money sitting there when there’s so many ways to spend it, but your greatest retirement earning potential is at your earliest age.

Not to mention, rainy days will come. It happens to us all. Having an emergency fund can make those down times a lot more manageable.

Don’t feel like you have to save a lot. A little bit can go a long way, just be consistent about it. Have the money directly deposited from your paycheck into an account. Or set up automatic money transfers with your bank from your checking account to your savings account.