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College and credit card lessons

By Kemberley Washington ·
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

Before going away to college, my parents warned me about partying and other distractions that could have gotten me off course.

However, they failed to mention that credit card representatives would await my arrival at the college's student union. Armed with T-shirts and other giveaways, I was instantly lured into the power of plastic.

Of course, much has changed these days. With the implementation of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, credit card companies no longer can hang out at the student union. In addition, students younger than age 21 must now prove their ability to pay -- or have an adult co-signer -- before receiving a credit card.

If you are headed to college this fall, use credit cards wisely.

Your credit is your future

Every decision you make from this point forward can impact your future. We are living in a time when employers look not only at your grades, but at your credit score as well.

About 33 percent of all employers perform a credit check before making a hiring decision if the employer deems the candidate's financial history to be crucial to his or her success on the job, according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Do you really need a designer bag?

It may be a good professional move to stay current with the latest fashions. But if you simply can't afford it, you should think twice before buying expensive clothing. That is especially true if you are purchasing items on credit or by other means of borrowing.

Create healthy financial habits while you are in college. Try not to borrow more than you need, and be mindful of every dollar that comes into your possession.

Become financially literate

Many college students who are good at making the grade still fail to understand personal finance. Educate yourself so you understand how credit cards work. Learn how a credit card can help or hurt you.

Sites such as can help you on your journey.

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and professor. She writes a personal finance blog at Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook.

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