First-generation Latino college students are dedicated, determined, and creative students. That’s why we’ve teamed up with State Farm® to make this back-to-school season a success for college students who are paving the way for future generations. It’s not always easy to be the first, but it is always an accomplishment.

College is the big stepping stone into adulthood, and it’s the time in our life when we learn how to make big financial decisions for the first time. 

For first-generation students, the sticker shock of college can cause unease, making you feel like you have to get into debt to afford it. According to a U.S. Department of Education study, most first-gen students have complicated feelings toward finances based on past experiences. This makes it more difficult to reach financial stability later on.

Being financially savvy in college is incredibly helpful for your future. We’ve put together seven tips to get you started on your financial wellness journey as you start college.

Open up a checking and savings account

Keeping your funds in a safe place will help keep you organized when it comes to money matters. For starters, if you receive more financial aid than you need to cover your semester or quarter, your refund will be deposited to you. 

A savings account will come in handy for creating good money habits and even for keeping an emergency fund.

Consider getting a credit card

This is a big responsibility, but there are benefits when you use it sparingly and avoid debt. Building credit and maintaining it can help you rent an apartment after dorm life or buy a car. The trick is not to exceed your spending limit and pay off your balances every month. 

Credit card newbies can start off by making small purchases every month that you know you’ll pay off, like a streaming service. Then, you can start making slightly larger purchases – just don’t go overboard!

Budget, budget, budget!

Sit down every month to figure out your income and how much you’ll be able to spend on necessities. This can be done in a spreadsheet or a handwritten tracker. You should start prioritizing things you need instead of things you want

The classic 50-30-20 rule is a good place to start: 50% of your funds should go towards necessities, 30% for wants, and 20% should be saved.

Control your spending

Even though it’s fun to get a $5 coffee before class, those seemingly small purchases can add up quickly. Instead, you can treat yourself after a big exam or at the end of a busy week. 

Impulse buys happen to the best of us! First, you should ask yourself if it’s really something that you need. If you’re an online shopper, add what you want to your cart and check back a few days later to make sure you still want them.

Hay comida en la casa

If you live on campus and bought a meal plan, take full advantage, don’t skip meals! If you’re not on a school meal plan, you can plan and prep your meals ahead of time. This will save you money and time with your new busy schedule.

Going out and enjoying the nightlife is also a big part of the college experience. If you plan on doing something, make sure you budget for it and don’t overdo it. 

Visit campus facilities

The money you pay in fees to your school goes towards the communal buildings. For example, you can get your sweat on at your school’s gym instead of getting a separate membership to a chain.

Textbooks: to buy new or used?

The notoriously expensive item is the bane of every college student’s existence. Rent or buy them used to avoid buying yours new. 

If you want to save even more, textbook editions that are a year or two out of date will have most of the same information, but they’ll be a little cheaper. Check everywhere, from your school bookstore to online marketplaces, because prices will vary.

Click here to learn more about how State Farm® has earned the reputation of being a good neighbor to many generations past, and more to come.