College years are a transitional time into the “real world.” Not only will you learn skill sets to gain employment, but you will learn life skills as you start living on your own. Now is the perfect time to start building a financial foundation that sets the course for the rest of your life. The following tips will help you become a money-savvy college student.
Use Credit Wisely and Sparingly
Getting a credit card can help you establish credit, but only if done responsibly. Try to resist credit card offers through your school and retail chains. If you do have a credit card, use it sparingly and pay off the balance each month. If not, you’ll end up paying interest on the items you purchased. According to a recent survey, more than a third of college students said they have over $1,000 in credit card debt. Do your best to avoid joining them!
Set a Budget
Review your monthly expenses and set realistic expectations for spending on items like groceries, gas, entertainment, and recreation. Determine how much money you will take in each month and whether or not you need to consider a part-time job. There are lots of personal finance tools available, many of which are free to use like Hills Bank’s Manage My Finances, available through Hills Bank Online banking. A budget will help provide a serious overview of your finances–just make sure you stick with it!
Balance Accounts Often
If you’re like most college students, you’ll probably use your debit card more often than writing a check. Even though debit cards are fast and convenient, it’s easy to forget where and what you’ve spent. Be sure to monitor and balance your accounts often, which is easy with an online banking app like Hills Bank Online. Knowing what’s in your account protects you from possible overdraft fees and the embarrassment of a purchase being declined or a check bouncing.
Take Active Measures to Protect Financial and Personal Information
Knowing how personal information is stolen and safeguarding yourself accordingly is one of the most effective tools against identity theft. Visit the Customer Protection Center for ways to protect your accounts and personal information.
Use Online Resources
Set up alerts in online banking, so you are able to monitor accounts between monthly statements. Alerts make emails or text messages available every time a transaction is made to your account.
Get Into the Habit of Saving
Start early with a savings plan to develop good habits for the future. Why? The more you save now, the more interest your account will earn over time, thanks to compound interest. Even though you may not have a lot of money now, time is on your side! Consider saving as “paying yourself first” and include it as a part of your monthly budget.
If you have any questions about the best ways to save and monitor your finances, send me an email. I’d be happy to help!