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These days, we tend to put a premium on which school we attend. But the truth is, you can be great wherever you go. I recently read an article based on Ken Bain’s book What the Best College Students Do about how students can gain the most from their college experience. While I was reading his suggestions, I thought about how they connect to practicing good financial management. Here are some of the common patterns he found in successful students – ones you can also apply to your personal finances.

Pursue passion, not A’s. It’s easier to do well when you’re interested in what you’re doing. There’s nothing worse than indifference. Sure, personal finance can be dull, but make it fun. Do you have your eye on a new car or that pretty dress in the shop window? Let that be your drive for creating a budget and tracking your spending.

Make a personal connection to your studies. Eliza Noh, now a college professor, says of her college experience, “I didn’t just listen to lectures, but began to use my own experiences as a jumping-off point for asking questions and wanting to pursue certain concepts.” Lessons are evident in everything we do, if we look hard enough. That story about a woman losing her home can be a lesson in financial preparation; or, your parents’ struggle to pay for college can teach you the importance of starting to save early on. Take what others say and do and take it a step further to apply to your own life.

Set goals and make them real. Goals are essential to success. They are distant lights guiding our way through the difficult tasks of the every day. Set a range of goals – big ones like saving $1,000 by the end of the semester as well as small ones like paying the cable and internet bill on time this month.

Your college experience is a great opportunity on many different levels. Use it to learn, gain control over your finances and practice managing your own money.

by sophie

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