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College is an exciting and scary time for many freshmen students. There is a new world to discover and for some it may be a little overwhelming to try and balance school, a social life, and finances. Many college students make their first big financial mistake in the first year of college. Fortunately, there are some simple things students can do to protect themselves. From knowing ways to prevent identity theft to creating a budget, these tips are some of the best financial advice for college students.

Buy Used Books Whenever Possible
This can be a huge money saver for any student. College textbooks are not known for their cheap prices and it’s not uncommon for the books or book for a single class to cost as much or more than the class itself. Some classes need only one or two books and others, such as literature classes may require half a dozen books for the semester. These prices add up quickly and can deplete a student’s financial aid or gift money from mom and dad. One of the best ways to save money on text books is to buy used books and to look around online. With places like Amazon and eBay, it can be easy to find most college books for a much cheaper price.

Carpool When You Can
Some students are lucky in that they can live at home or in a dorm while attending college. Others are not so fortunate and face a long commute each day they attend classes. Gas can burn through finances and cause students to overcharge credit cards and begin to sink into debt. Over use of vehicles can lead to expensive repair bills.  An easy way to postpone these problems is to carpool with other students who have a similar schedule and live near you. So long as everyone in the group is on time and communicates well carpooling can be a great money saving option.

Find Out About any Student Discounts
Many towns, and especially the ‘college towns’ typically have many different activities and venues that cater to the college student population. From movies and theater, parks, amusement parks, museums, and much more,there typically are many options for entertainment and fun in these towns. It can help save a good bit of money in the long run my looking to see what places offer student discounts. Local restaurants may offer a few dollars off with a student ID. Theaters may have a reduced admission for students. There may be special events set aside specifically for college students. If you are going to splurge and spend some money, it will be money better spent when you can get a discount.

Make a Budget and Stick to It
A budget is critical for financial stability and it is one of the best financial tips for college students that they will ever receive. Even if it is something as simple as setting aside a certain amount of money each month for bills, food, gas, school, and fun, it can help keep you on track. Many students find it useful to log every penny that they spend for a week. It can be a real eye opener when they realize just how much money they are spending each week in the cafeteria or on vending machines. Creating a budget is like having a road map and it shows you where your money should be going each week and it can help alert you when you start going off track and spending too much in one area and ignoring another.

Get Credit Checks and ID Protection
Identity theft statistics are frightening and there are a large percentage of college students who might fall victim to credit scams, identity fraud, and debt troubles. As a college student, chances are it is a time of firsts–first credit card, first car, and first time on your own. It also needs to be the time to learn about how to prevent identity theft. Getting fraud and identity protection and running credit report checks can help you to get off on the right foot, financially. Your credit follows you for the rest of your life so you need to take the initiative and work now to make sure you are on firm financial ground. You are taking care of your education by going to school and you need to take just as good care of your credit with regular checks and monitoring.

College can be both exhilarating and terrifying for freshmen students. The new world of adulthood can be a little overwhelming as they try to balance school, a social life, and finances. Many college students might end up making their first big financial mistake in the first year of college. But with these helpful tips and many others that are readily available, every student can have the chance to start off on firm financial ground.

Amy Johnson is an active blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their college freshmen to be wise financially.