Managing Money in College: Are You Truly Prepared?

Exciting times await college students. New school, new friends, new adventures, and hopefully a lot of new learning. But sadly, one new experience we see a lot of is students learning the hard way that they are not prepared to manage their money.

Unfortunately, financial literacy is often left out of the typical education system’s curriculum. Students are taught to study, take tests, play sports, play an instrument, and even meet new friends but are not taught how to survive financially. Parents and guardians become the primary educators in teaching money management, and money management skills often slip through the cracks.

Here are a few tips and guidelines to keep that college student from going down the “College Financial Road of Hard Knocks.”

Open a Student Checking and Savings Accounts ASAP

Opening the correct checking and savings account as soon as possible – even before you head off to college – will allow you to start setting realistic budgets, manage your balance and save for those unexpected expenses. Setting up accounts is essential, but so is choosing the proper account. Accounts vary, so do a little research and find the one that fits your needs. Learning to manage your money in college gives you an advantage in school and can also prepare you to start investing and planning for the future. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right institution and accounts.

  • Don’t feel limited to financial institutions that have ATMs on or near campus; some will automatically reimburse fees for using any ATM.

  • Consider accounts that offer services like remote check deposits, mobile apps, and online bill-pay.

  • Dig deeper when accounts are marketed as “free” or “easy” – very few accounts charge no fees at all.

  • Signing up for an account now can save you headaches later, and researching accounts with the lowest fees can save you money.

  • You have many banking/credit union account options. Check out your options and Read Our Blog, “What is the difference between a Credit Union and a Bank?”


Shop Around For Your Textbooks

Students and parents often assume their only or at least the most convenient way to buy textbooks is from the College Bookstore, but this is simply not the case. Other options can save you serious money now and over the next four years.

  • Buy used books online. One of the best ways students can save money is by buying used books online.

  • Rent textbooks. If you only need a book for a short time, or you know you aren’t going to keep the book after the class ends – consider renting.

  • Use price alerts. To get the best deal when buying books online, consider using a service like Online Price Alert, which syncs with Amazon to notify you when books go on sale.

  • Go halfsies. Are you taking a class with one of your BFFs or roommates? If so, consider splitting the cost of a book and sharing the textbook.

  • Comparison shop. Sites like CampusBooks allow you to enter your textbook information online and comparison shop new and used books — saving you both time and money.

  • Read the syllabus carefully – it often includes options for books and the ones required and not required for each course.


Renters Insurance – Yes, You Need it!

Could you afford to replace your entire wardrobe if your apartment caught fire or was broken into? What about your phone, laptop, TV, and furniture? If the answer is no, you probably need renters insurance. Landlord insurance covers the structure of the building but not tenants’ personal belongings.

You need to consider renters insurance if you decide to live in a private rental instead of college housing. Renters insurance can protect your personal property against damage or loss and insure you in case someone gets hurt while on your property. The last thing you need is a lawsuit.

Renter’s insurance can’t stop awful things from occurring, but it can make life a little easier if and when they do occur. If you’re worried about the expense, renters insurance coverage may cost less than you expect — in fact, some tenants could pay next to nothing. The average cost of renters insurance is $168 a year, or about $14 a month, but you will need to speak to an insurance representative to get the exact pricing.

Money Options While in College

Depending on the situation, you may need a little monetary assistance. College Student Loans and a job may be necessary to make ends meet and still give you the freedom to truly enjoy the college experience.

With roughly 70% of American students taking out loans to go to college, it is crucial to understand your student loans. Do your research! Make sure to read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions of your student loan. AODFCU has very competitive rates and will assign someone to walk you through the process, so there are no surprises.

Student loans are a necessity for most college students, but it is wise to keep that debt as low as possible, and having a job while in college can help keep that debt low. Here are a few things to consider when considering working while in college.

  • Look at your expenses, and consider how much you need to make.

  • Set a budget and stick to it.

  • Find a job near your residence – saving you time and money.

  • Make sure you calculate your school hours and the study time needed to do well in each course (remember why you are going to college is to earn a degree).

  • Consider how much taxes you want to be taken out of your paycheck.

Click Here to learn more about our Student Loan Services, College Planning Center, and Scholarships.

Heading to college is a time for new experiences, exploring academic interests, meeting new people, and embracing financial independence. However, financial independence comes with its share of risks and rewards. Are you prepared to make wise and informed financial decisions? Do you know how to recognize predatory credit offers? Can you properly manage a checking account? Do you have a savings plan? Do you understand your financial aid and how it will be repaid?

Students who practice good money management skills, such as making a budget, tracking their spending, and managing loan debt, will be better prepared after graduation. At AODFCU, we understand the importance of wise money management and starting on the right foot. Contact us to set up an appointment so we can discuss your students’ financial options.

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