Money Tips To Discuss with Your College Student
As college students head home for Thanksgiving break and realize that their bank accounts are no longer “stuffed” from their summer jobs, it’s the perfect time to review some money management tips. It’s important for college students to take control of their financial future by saving wherever and whenever they can. They should treat personal finance like a second major and avoid unnecessary expenses now to reduce financial burden when they graduate.
Here are 10 tips to help college students form a strong foundation for money management:
- Create a budget. You’re an adult now and are responsible for managing your own finances. The first step is to create a realistic budget or plan and stick to it.
- Watch spending. Keep receipts and track spending in a notebook. Pace spending and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses like eating out or shopping so that your money can last throughout the semester.
- Make decisions. After reviewing your expenses, chances are you will be surprised that the little things add up to so much. Think twice about stopping at the coffee shop or ordering that late night pizza when you can eat on your meal plan instead. Keep a close eye on what you are spending on movies on demand, downloading music or videos, video games, and weekend trips – these expenses can add up quickly.
- 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. Here is a link to a great blog for trying new meals on a budget.
- Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of having a credit card. 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. Looks for card rewards that appeal to you, but more importantly , pay close attention to monthly and annual fees. And be sure to include any credit card payments in your monthly budget.
- 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 and set alerts to keep you on track.
- Use only your bank’s ATMs. You can 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. Or, consider using Venmo or other person to person payments instead of cash. You can also use your phone’s mobile wallet to store your debit and credit card information for making payments on the go.
- Buy used. 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 new ones.
- Lookout for money. There's a lot of money available for students -- you just have to look for it. Apply for scholarships, and look for student discounts or other deals.
- Expect the unexpected. Things happen, and it's important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or you have to buy an unexpected bus ticket home. You should start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount.
And don't forget, you can always ask. This is a learning experience, so if you need help, ask. Your parents or the Trusted Advisors at Washington Trust are a good place to start, and remember—the sooner the better.