Sure, food fosters friendships and gives you and your buddies an oppor-tunity to burp in unison, but it's transient. It's here today and gone in an hour. Along with your cash flow.

Remember the cafeteria-that large food area where you've already paid for three squares a day. Check it out.

It's not your money

Just because your campus allows certain credit-card vendors to peddle their wares-with full approval from the college brass-does not mean you should grant them even the time of day.

Hard to believe isn't it? Your parents barely trust you to do your laundry and brush your teeth every day, but Visa and MasterCard are ready to hand you $3,000, $5,000-maybe more. Free money. Woohoo!

Okay, you need to get this: It's not a gift, it's not your money. It's a snare to make you feel wealthy; a trap to pull you into their clutches for 10, 15 years or longer. It's bait to hook you so they can reel you in. Face it. It's open season on Freshman and these companies will go to curious lengths to slip a shiny new credit card into your wallet.

They'll offer you a free liter of Pepsi, a flashlight, maybe a T-shirt just for filling out the application. They'd hand out credit cards if the law didn't forbid it. They'll do just about anything to get you hooked.

The only winners in that deal are the companies handing out applications and the college that earns a healthy commission based on the revenues those applications generate.

Run, don't walk, from those tables with the perky sales-types hawking free stuff. You'll have plenty of time in your sophomore or junior year to apply for a credit card.

Bottom line here, kids: Learn moderation. Practice living below your means. Never spend all of your money. Study hard, work even harder and then pace yourself.

Oh, and give your family a break. Call home.

© 2005 The Cheapskate Monthly. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

     "The Cheapskate Monthly" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt.  What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt.  Today, "The Cheapskate Monthly" is read by close to 100,000 Cheapskates.   Click here to subscribe.