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I thought the asterisk was a cute, harmless little star before I went to college.
Then, my first week on campus, I was offered 12 CDs for $1 ("with nothing more to buy--ever"), a free T-shirt, Frisbee and a complete collection of Muppet movies on DVD. All I had to do was sign up for a credit card.
Some tunes ... my own plastic ... a singing, dancing frog--how's a guy to resist?
Then I saw them. Asterisk. Asterisk. Asterisk.
Oooooh, pretty stars, I thought.
Then I started reading the small type that followed each asterisk on every great deal from a bank or credit card company. You've heard the old saying, "If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is." I'd change it to this: "If a deal sounds too good to be true, then read the asterisk. And carefully." It turns out that a lot of those "great deals" offered great prizes or great gifts, but they would have hidden costs later on. Like credit cards with low introductory interest rates that shot up within a few mouths. Or CD-by-mail plans that sound like a good deal--until you forget to send back the ones you don't want and end up owing a lot of money.
I soon realized that if I was going to make it in college, I needed a budget--and so will you. Whether you have a car and a healthy stash of cash, or are more like my college-student sister ("I have $8 to my name," Bri told me the other day), there will always be more enticing spending opportunities than resources available. Always.
As much as any factor, having a budget in place will make or break your college experience--just like it will make or break your bank …