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It’s easy during these four years of college to simply focus on pur­suing an edu­cation. Stu­dents assume that if they focus on their edu­cation and making the right con­nec­tions, they will get the right jobs. Those jobs will provide them with enough income, and that income will support their desired lifestyles. But stu­dents don’t have to wait until grad­u­ation or the right job to start thinking about finances.

Keith Cameron Smith, author of “The Top 10 Dis­tinc­tions Between the Middle Class and Mil­lion­aires,” shared 10 char­ac­ter­istics of mil­lion­aires. Number 10 was, “Mil­lion­aires think long-term. The middle class thinks short-term.” He says the very poor think day to day, poor people think week to week, the middle class thinks month to month, the rich think year to year, and the very rich will plan by the decade.

How can stu­dents start thinking about finances now and plan for decades to come? Hillsdale eco­nomics pro­fessor offer their advice on how a student can prepare for better financial sta­bility after college.

Follow simple steps for financial success

Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Eco­nomics, Herman A. and Suzanne S. Det­twiler Chair in Eco­nomics, Charles Steele:

“First, make it a game to see how little you can get by on. Spend as little as pos­sible. Second, save. Third, never consume on credit. Bor­rowing for investing in some­thing that offers future returns can be a good idea some­times. Bor­rowing to consume, to boost one’s current lifestyle, is self-destructive. If a student starts number one and number two now and makes them his or her lifestyle, their chances of being finan­cially inde­pendent increase enor­mously.”

Use bud­geting tools

Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Eco­nomics, Wallace and Marion Reemelin Chairman in Free Market Eco­nomics, Michael Clark:

“I can’t imagine actually having money while in college, but if I had to give some advice for college stu­dents it would be to get a bud­geting app for your phone. I would do this not so much to limit or slow your spending, but to start to really appre­ciate where your money is going and to see if that aligns with what you believe are your pri­or­ities.”

Stay out of debt

William Simon Pro­fessor of Eco­nomics and Public Policy, Director of Eco­nomics, Pro­fessor of Political Economy, Gary Wolfram:

“Don’t use your credit card unless you can pay it all off at the end of the month. Use it as a a short-term, 30-day loan. The less debt you can carry the better. Debt for some­thing pro­ductive in the future like a house is okay. If you’re going to buy a car, you ought to buy a used car with as few miles as you can afford. New cars are so expensive now days you’re not going to buy that anyway. And invest as soon as you can. If you have a job and they match your 401k or if the company matches it, you should put in as you can.”

Don’t keep up with the Jones

Vis­iting pro­fessor of per­sonal investing, Joe Banach:

“Since each person is unique, I don’t have a simple formula for how to improve one’s financial sit­u­ation. Yet, simply, if we live within our means (mod­er­ation) and under­stand the investment fun­da­mentals, such as appro­priate research and under­standing our own risk tol­erance prior to making financial and investment deci­sions, that is pru­dence, then we should be able to live stable, self-reliant lives.”