NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — For many Americans, starting college means taking on a host of new freedoms and responsibilities. Besides handling a rigorous course load, making new friends and adjusting to life on campus, college students are often also faced with the difficult task of managing their own finances for the first time . While some succeed without doing too much damage to their bank accounts, it's all too common for college students to fall into financial pitfalls that can haunt them for years to come.

Read More: How to Finance a Four-Year Degree with a Credit Card

As a new generation of students heads off to college this fall, MainStreet asked financial gurus to share their biggest money mistakes in college and the lessons they learned. Their stories just might help spare today's college kids from making the same blunders.

Read More: How to Graduate from College with No Student Loan Debt.

Name: Harrine Freeman
Occupation: CEO/Owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises , which offers financial counseling services
Lives in: Washington, D.C.
Money mistake: Racking up credit card debt

"The biggest financial mistake I made in college was getting a credit card. I got approved for one and signed up for tons of pre-approved offers. I ended up having 13 credit cards by the time I graduated and was $19,000 in credit card debt. I had a savings account but didn't understand how credit cards worked. I got a full-time job but lost my job which was the start of my financial woes.

"I was able to pay off my credit card debt but it took me four years. I am very careful with credit cards today and pay for 95% of my purchases with cash."

Name: Michael F. Kay
Occupation: Certified financial planner and president of Financial Life Focus
Lives in: Livingston, N.J.
Money mistake: Not saving hard-earned cash

"During my years in college, I worked pretty much full time, in addition to going to school full time. I had a variety of jobs, including working in the bookstore, parking cars on the weekend and being a resident assistant. My biggest mistake was not capturing some of the money I made. It all seemed to go, whether on books, supplies or food on the weekends. It was a constant cycle of earning and spending and my stipend check never came soon enough. Had I had the foresight, I would have taken at least 10% from each job and stashed it away. That probably would have allowed me some reserves for job hunting after I graduated. I can see now that a little planning would have made my life significantly easier, but unfortunately, I didn't have the training or awareness to put some away."