"I Still Terribly Regret It": People Are Sharing The Money Mistake From College That Still Haunts Them, And I'm Definitely Guilty Of A Couple

    "I regret pretty much every financial decision I made in college. I opened credit cards, joined a sorority that I paid for myself, and best of all, took the maximum amount of student loans available every single semester. Almost 20 years later, I’m still over $100k in debt."

    College can be a really fun and exciting time, but it's also expensive. And for a lot of us, it's our first taste of living as adults away from our parents. This all adds up to a recipe for making money mistakes and learning tough financial lessons the hard way.

    So we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share the biggest money mistakes they made in college, and I really wish someone would've warned me about all of this stuff when I was in school:

    1. "Getting credit cards because of those stupid 'pre-approved' letters. I spent more money than I could pay off. I lost a job and ended up ruining my credit. I also took out payday loans which took forever to get rid of and I wasted so much money re-upping them."

    woman holding a credit card

    2. "After paying off my classes and books with my financial aid money, I often had a good amount left over. Instead of using that to go towards rent, groceries, or even paying back my student loans, I blew it on clothes, alcohol, dues for my fraternity, and gave the rest to my family back home. If I were more strategic, I wouldn’t have had to work three jobs and go to school full time."

    "I cannot stress enough that money management should be taught in school, especially to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Having access to $2,000 felt like I had won the lottery, with no guidance and on my own for the first time in my life."


    3. "Be wary of group leases when you're splitting the rent with your buds but all sending in your payments separately. A former roommate inexplicably stopped paying rent for several months. At the end of our lease, the property management company informed my other two roommates and I that, unfortunately, with a group lease, we were all liable for it. They took the missed payments out of our deposits and charged us more to cover it all!"

    4. "I was in an accelerated bachelor's program and didn't have time to work between classes and homework. I took out a loan from Discover — it was advertised to me and I had their credit card. I was embarrassed about needing money and didn't talk to family or anyone about options. I didn't look around at all, just applied and accepted."

    "The interest rate was astronomical (even with excellent credit) — something I didn't think about until I had to start paying it back. Every payment was about 90% interest. It would've taken forever to actually pay it off. Shortly after I had to start making payments, I had a relative pass away and inherited enough to pay the whole balance off. I've learned to do my research and ask questions."

    —Amanda, 33

    5. "Payday loans. Even ones that tout themselves as 'different from the other guys.' I was a nursing student working as a CNA, washing my scrubs daily. My dryer broke and I didn't have the immediate cash to buy a new one, so I did a payday loan to get it. A $300 loan turned into a $5,000 debt within a couple of months. I could have just sucked it up and gone to a laundromat for a fraction of that."

    stressed out woman looking at loan paperwork

    6. "My grandparents passed away and left a large sum of money for each of us grandkids just before I went to college. Trauma happened, and I ended up spending all that money frivolously. While it was a learning experience and unavoidable because it was a trauma response, I still terribly regret it."

    —Rachel, 32

    7. "This may be obvious, but not learning how to save and opening up a savings account. I really should have tucked money away way back then, but anything I had, I spent, living for the moment. It's 'just money.' Well, in my line of work back then, it was feast or famine, and during the 'feast,' the gettin' was good. I could have easily put away thousands. Learn how to save and budget, PLEASE."

    8. "I felt forced to financially support my then-boyfriend for two years after he got kicked out of university. He wanted to be the next Steve Jobs while I just wanted to graduate. He wouldn't get a job to help out at all and said that if I 'loved' him I was supposed to endure until he got back on his own feet. My family lived off government aid so I knew I couldn't ask them. His family was financially better but he didn't want to ask for help. So I took out more student loans (over $10K) and lived off my credit card and financial aid."

    "Needless to say, we argued a bunch. I wanted to stay in the city but he was going to stick to me like glue. I considered getting a job out of state but he wanted to follow me wherever I went. I couldn't imagine supporting him any longer so after graduation I moved back to my tiny town. We broke up soon after.

    He was my first boyfriend. It was very toxic and emotionally and financially draining. It still shows on my credit history. Honestly, I regret the whole thing. I felt so much relief when he finally let me go. I feel my life would be very different if we never dated."

    —Mai, 30

    9. "Not taking out student loans. My family convinced me they would ruin my life, but once my savings ran out after one semester, I ended up taking on a ton of credit card debt just to get by. Eventually, I took out loans during my junior year and was able to stop using my credit cards, but the interest was so high that I could never get it fully paid off."

    young woman holding three different credit cards

    10. "I was extremely lucky to have a scholarship that paid more than half my tuition in college and my parents paid the other part. But I wish I had taken more control of my finances and learned more from that instead of just using their money. It made me bury my head in the sand on a lot of my costs and bills. I ended up having a credit card company take me to court. I'm happy to announce I now take full responsibility for myself and pay for all my bills and keep track of everything. It's hard, but you can do it."

    —Katy, 29

    11. "My biggest regret is not taking a semester (or more) off when I needed it. I attended school out of state and taking time off would’ve really screwed up financial aid, so I pushed through. I ended up practically destroying my mental health. I also took a bunch of summer classes and loaded up my schedule to get my four-year degree done in three years, partly to save money. If I could go back, I’d take my time. No amount of savings is worth the toll it took on my health."

    12. "I got a credit card and I resolved to not use it, just keep it for emergencies. But one day I was a bit short on something and put like $20 on the card. I didn't check my mail all that often and had no idea how often they sent bills. Eventually, I checked my mail and sent in my payment, but it was late, and had already been reported to the credit agencies. So I had to explain my 'late credit' mark when I went to get my first apartment, my first car loan, etc., and ended up paying higher rates for things for years. So don't sleep on making payments, folks."


    13. "I was invited to a dinner party at a restaurant and it was nice! However, the host was short on cash to buy a lavish dessert for everyone. I offered to lend her money to get the dessert. I probably gave her close to $100, which was a ton of money for a college student in 2008. She took the money, paid for the dessert, and never paid me back."

    woman picking up the tab for her friends in a restaurant

    14. "I got a debit card my freshman year of college and used it as if it was a credit card. I went a little overboard buying school gear. I had no idea that a debit and credit card were not the same, and quickly learned when I got hit with overdraft fees and had no more money left."

    "Thankfully it never impacted my credit score, but I learned the hard way about the difference between debit and credit cards. As a high school teacher, I try to teach the kids the difference between them and the importance of being on time with credit card payments. Not enough is done to help truly financially prepare our teens to handle finances as an adult."

    —Stephanie, 30

    15. "I wish I wouldn't have cracked under the pressure to go to school right after high school when I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I went to an out of state college because I had a college fund worth about $30K when I was 19. I blew through the money in two years pursuing a degree that I now realize I would have hated had I gone through with it. Ten years later, I am back in school for something I love but I lost my college fund so I have to fund it myself."

    16. "I regret pretty much every financial decision I made in college. I opened credit cards, joined a sorority that I paid for myself, and best of all, took the maximum amount of student loans available every single semester. Almost 20 years later, I’m still over $100K in debt."

    —Lilah, 38

    17. And finally, "I regret not spending enough money. You’re only in college or your 20s once, and it’s important to enjoy it. I’m not saying go crazy buying top-shelf everything. But I should have spent the money on basketball tickets. I should have gone to Vegas with my friends. Then and now, it’s about a balance of being responsible, but also you can’t take that money with you when you die."

    friends going on a road trip

    What money lessons did you learn in college? Share your stories in the comments!