It's finally (or should that be "already?") time to get back to school. And if you're a college student, this also means adjusting to a changing schedule, a new curriculum, and hopefully, a new budget. Here are some quick common-sense ideas to help college students keep a 4.0 in the subject of personal finances.
Create a budget.
You’re an adult now and are responsible for managing your finances. The first step is to create a realistic budget or plan and stick to it.
Keep receipts and track spending in a notebook or a personal financial app like Mint. Pace spending and increase savings by cutting unnecessary expenses like eating out or shopping so that your money can last throughout the semester.
Use credit wisely.
Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Use it, but don’t abuse it. How you handle your credit in college could affect you well after graduation. Shop around for a card that best suits your needs.
Take advantage of your bank’s resources.
Most banks offer online, mobile, and text banking tools to manage your account night and day. Use these tools to check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, and monitor transaction history.
Look out for money.
There's a lot of money available for students -- you must look for it. Apply for scholarships and look for student discounts or other deals.
Consider buying used books or ordering them online. Buying books can become expensive, and often, used books are in just as good of shape as brand-new ones.
Entertain on a budget.
Limit your “hanging out” fund. There are lots of fun activities to keep you busy in college and many are free for students. Get the most from your student ID. Use your meal plan or sample new recipes instead of eating out.
Use only your bank’s ATMs.
Avoid fees by using ATMs owned by or affiliated with your bank. If you must use an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank, take out larger withdrawals to avoid having to go back multiple times. You can usually use your bank's app to locate an affiliated ATM near you.
Expect the unexpected.
Things happen, and it's important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or buy an unexpected plane ticket home. You should start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount. If you want to see how far saving can get you, use this calculator to see what it will take to become a millionaire!
This is a learning experience, so if you need help, ask. Your parents or your bank are a good place to start and remember—the sooner the better.
For more tips and resources on a variety of personal finance topics such as mortgages, credit cards, protecting your identity, and saving for college, visit aba.com/Consumers or stop by your local Bank Independent sales office. Our team will partner with you to help you make the most of your college finances!