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Quick Money Tips for College Students

Mastering your personal finances now - allows you to concentrate on learning and having fun without having some of the most important years in your life get sidetracked by money troubles.

Create a budget

  • Track money coming in and going out.  Take costs such as school supplies, food outside your meal plan, personal care items and laundry into account. Use our Student Budget Calculator to analyze your budget as a full-time student.
  • Keep track of your expenses. Track your spending for a month. Get receipts for everything and enter them into the worksheet each week. Make a habit of it. You’ll be shocked how much you spend on little things – a coffee every day, a bag of chips here and there, quick trips to the grocery store. They all add up. Just by tracking your expenses and saving receipts, you’ll probably start to curb your expenses.
  • Every month you should balance your budget to make sure that you’re not spending more than you’re making. Set aside a half an hour at the same time each week to review your expenses to make sure you have enough money to cover everything. Review your statements through online banking with your credit union.

Be Smart when using your Debit Card

  • Understand that a debit card withdraws money from your checking account.  Now with the convenience of digital wallets, make sure to know your checking account balance before you make a purchase so you don’t overdraw your account.  Otherwise you could incur fees.
  • You can view your balance anytime, anywhere through online banking or the Credit Union’s mobile banking App. And, you can set up account alerts to receive an email or text notifying you when your balance falls below a certain amount so you’ll know to transfer money to bring up the account balance.
  • Remember most checks clear pretty quickly so make sure you leave enough in your checking account to cover checks/bills that haven’t “cleared” your account yet. Set up bills to be paid automatically with our online bill pay service to make sure bills get paid on-time.
  • Use the Credit Union's ATM locator within the mobile banking App to find over 30,000 ATMs nationwide where you can withdraw cash from an ATM and wont’ receive a fee.

Spend within your means

  • If you have a credit card, only use it when necessary.  Make sure you have the money already set aside to pay off the bill when it comes in.
  • A credit card is basically a loan where you are “borrowing money” on a line of credit and have to pay it back.  If you don’t pay the entire balance off each month, you will incur interest on the remaining balance left.  Therefore, that balance continues to grow every month, whether you make a purchase the next month or not.  The interest will keep building on the remaining balance owed.

Build good credit

  • Making timely payments on bills such as car insurance, cell phones, or credit cards all help in building good credit. And good credit will make it easier to secure lower rates on things such as car loans, insurance rates as well as the rent on an apartment.
  • An additional way to build good credit is to make sure that you don’t bounce checks or overdraw your checking account. Remember to set-up account alerts for balance notifications.

Beware of identity theft

  • Keeping an eye on your bank statements can be the first defense against identity theft. Try to review your statements on a monthly basis.
  • It’s also vital to learn the importance of online privacy. Whether through your profiles on Facebook, Twitter or other social sites, it’s important to keep personal information private, to always shred paperwork that includes personal details and to never share passwords or PIN’s with anyone, including close friends.

Pay yourself first

  • Begin saving today. It’s never too early to start a savings account. While in college you may not have a lot of money to put away but, it’s important to save what you can. Every little bit counts.
  • You can set up automatic transfers within your online banking account.  This way, your savings account will grow automatically.

Start an emergency fund

  • It’s also a good idea to ensure you have a little bit of extra cash in a separate savings account in case of an emergency. From a car that needs a tow, to an unexpected fee in one of your classes, it’s always smart to put a few hundred dollars away for the unexpected expenses that are sure to come up.

Look for Student Discounts

  • Do a search for local restaurants, venues or services near the college that offer students discounts to help you save money.

College can be expensive, but learning the basics when it comes to money management now means you don't have to graduate with massive debt. Laying the groundwork for smart budgeting and spending habits in college enables you to handle financial responsibility for the future.