Tools I Wish I Had 4 Years Ago

Looking back as a recent college graduate to my time in school, I was trying to come up with some advice to give a low-income freshmen who just started school. But then I realized…nah, we get too much advice as it is.

So instead, here are some concrete tools (most, but not all, for financial success while in college) that I wish I had known about during my first year of college.


  • This is a great site where you can compare flights using a variety of different parameters.
  • You can’t actually purchase flights via the site, but the Google-driven search engine, great user-interface, and ability to compare prices over a series of dates is great.


  • There’s a “free” section on craigslist.
  • It’s amazing.
  • The url says “boston” but they have it everywhere.


  • Create an account with the New York Times! Don’t sign up for a subscription, just create an account.
  • It’s free!
  • You can get breaking news alerts, tech updates, etc. all, in the form of succinct paragraphs sent directly to your email.
  • Keeping up with the news is incredibly important, and as college gets busy, this is the best way to do it.


  • Great tool for budgeting.


  • Great tool for tracking your general credit score.


  • If you don’t have a credit card, get one! Building credit now is super important.
  • But of course, don’t make purchases if you don’t actually have the cash to pay for it.
  • There are great cards like this one where you can put a deposit down in order to start building credit (since most credit cards will reject you).

7) or

  • These are just a few examples, but a lot of online savings banks have interest rates that are far higher than banks that are based out of physical locations.
  • These two have interest rates of about .8%, compared to interest rates of about .01% at Bank of America.

8) Most credit cards give you extended warranties, extra rental car insurance, and travel cancellation insurance automatically when you use the card to buy that service. You just have to call them to ask for the money/reimbursement.

Thanks, and I hope this helps!

— by Kelsey Gaetjens, Quest Scholar alum, Williams ’13