I’ll admit, it’s been a minute since I’ve been on a college campus. Actually, it’s been a bit longer than that, but those of us who have been there can all agree on one thing: it’s an exciting and somewhat expensive new chapter in life. Whether you’re heading off to college to live in a dorm or moving out on your own, if you keep a few things in mind, you too can enjoy your college experience without going broke.

  • Create a Budget! By getting in the habit early, you will basically be an expert when you graduate and go into the real world. As long as you don’t spend more than you have/earn, you’re doing ok.

  • Go to Class! This is just a no-brainer. At the same time, if you’re sick, please stay home.

(And while we’re on the subject of class; please do not raise your hand to use the restroom. Just quietly get up and leave.)

  • Make Friends! Being away from home for the first time can be scary. Finding people to spend time with can make it a little less terrifying. Get out and explore your new city. One way to do that is to volunteer for local events, concerts or charities. Not only is this a cheap form of entertainment and a great way to meet new people, but it also will look good on your resume.

  • Eat Healthy! The freshmen 15 is real. Instead of hitting vending machines all the time, stock up on healthy snacks with a longer shelf life. If you have roommates, you can create a meal plan together and take turns making meals that all of you can share. This way you can split the food cost.

Also- drink more water. Pop/soda is loaded with empty calories, which can make you feel full, but it’s expensive. Tap water is cheap (as in free) and a reusable water bottle is much better for the environment.

  • Don’t Leave Your Laundry in the Washing Machine! Not only is it rude, but there’s no guarantee that someone won’t steal your favorite hoodie. If you plan on going back home on a regular basis, try to bring enough clothes to last between trips. This way you can save money by using your parents’ washer and dryer.

  • Avoid Credit Card Sign-Up Tables! No interest rate is worth it just to get a free t-shirt. Instead, make a plan to sit down with someone at your credit union to discuss your options. Look for lower interest rates and make it a point to pay more than the minimum balance.

Most importantly, remember, college is a marathon, not a sprint. If you don’t know what you want to major in by the end of your freshman year, it’s ok. I changed majors several times and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.