Starting your college career is an exciting time — you are likely living on your own, meeting new people and getting exposed to a range of new experiences. However, entering freshman year is also a prime time to start taking your finances seriously. Here are five important tips for putting the right financial foot forward during the first week of school.

Skip the Bookstore

Buying books from the campus bookstore is a rookie mistake, as on-campus prices are almost always more expensive than other options. Instead of the bookstore, try using sites like Amazon or Chegg. These websites typically have all your textbook needs for a fraction of the price, especially if you rent books or buy them used.

Student Perks Pay Off

If your university or college has a cafeteria or meal plan option, take advantage of it! Meal plans are a lot cheaper than paying for food off campus. Also, be sure to check out your university’s student coupon book, as many local businesses give out student discounts in college towns.

Be Cautious with Credit

While building your credit is important, be wary of signing up for just any card. Local banks in college towns typically like to rope new students into applying for credit cards. However, you should always research which card is right for you before taking the plunge. Avoid high-interest, annual-fee cards that could end up costing you money in the long run.

Stay Updated on Scholarships

Meet with your academic advisor and get the info on all scholarship deadlines. Many scholarships are available through specific majors and are spread all throughout the school year. By setting up reminders for application deadlines, you’ll be equipped to apply on time and potentially save loads on tuition each year.

Budget with the Envelope System

Budgeting can be difficult, especially when you’re on your own for the first time. Luckily, the envelope system has you set your budget for the month with envelopes of cash dedicated to spending categories like groceries, gas, and fun money. Once your envelope is empty, you can’t spend any more until next month. This method will help you manage your money better and avoid debt, as you can physically see how much you have left in each envelope and therefore each category.