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College is back in swing and those poor freshman are just getting bowled over. But are sophomores any better off… sometimes yes but surprisingly they bring up points at credit seminars that reveal a veneer of freshman flavored flaws.


Here are the mistakes and credit tips summarized

  1. Don't focus on a card with points. Worry about points when you company is reimbursing you for expenses. As a rule of thumb, points don't add if you charge less than $1000. Cards never give more than a 1.5% cash value so look past the marketing mirage and urban hearsay.
  2. Budget in the rear view mirror. Experts say plan but that's what non-college students do. You as a frosh/soph should check how where your money went and make future spending choices.
  3. Getting the bill is 80% of the battle. Third class mail pretty much gets lost in the shuffle. Solution is to monitor your bill due date or subscribe to a free bill reminder service.
  4. Distrust the genie with a free t-shirt. The best thing you can do is realize that free is the cause of much college pain. Google “free $5 tshirt” and read the misery.
  5. Debit rewards are even more of a tease than credit rewards.
  6. Maximize FICO when you graduate in 2009 or 2010. Charge $25 every month and pay it off. When does $20,000 = $25?! When Experian-Equifax-Trans Union measure you.,000-in-Trans-Union-eyes.htm
  7. Know what FICO means NOW. It is just like your SAT or ACT except that its more important and EASIER to inflate. FICO scales from 250 to 850 and can do more than get you into a program where you pay to do work. A high FICO can help you minimize life's largest expense: interest.
  8. Keep your address at home (vs the dorm / frat / apartment address you share with 125 other people) but get your bills online.
  9. Debt will push your GPA down. How does a part time job on top of the 50hrs of school work sound?! Owing $1200 feels like a ‘B' with 3 ‘C's'. Ideally, avoid owe a nickel and dabble starting your own company. I hear Facebook needs a new competitor and if anything's true about social networks is that they will come and go in 2-5 year waves. How about MySpace without the
  10. Play-lend a real $100 with real interest paid to you. Money is a horrible master but a wonderful servant. $100 isn't a staff of servants but it's a start.
  11. Avoid debt momentum. Don't get upset about the $8k you went into debt on for tuition. It's at low interest and isn't due in years. Don't let $8k sway you into $500 on your credit card.


Don't ever say, all my debts go away when I get a job. The opposite is true because they only get worse. You might be cash poor but FICO rich.