For college students, the phrase “back to school” can evoke both excitement and stress.
It’s normal to feel anxious or unsure about this journey – especially when it comes to navigating this newfound financial responsibility.
While we may not be able to show you around campus, we can provide you with some tips on the financial realities you may encounter this school year to help you develop healthy financial habits while away at school:
Budgeting: “Stick to a tight budget” – you probably hear it over and over again. What does that really mean, though? Create a budget by tracking your income/savings and expenses in a way that works for you. Your expenses are anything that comes out of your account, such as rent, groceries, supplies, and entertainment. Start by finding a way to earn income, categorizing needs versus wants, and tracking your spending on a weekly basis.
Building credit: Credit is probably not a top-of-mind issue now, but building credit now will lay the foundation for success post-grad. If you have a student loan, you’re building credit with each on-time payment you make towards the loan. If you’re reading to take on another responsibility, take out a student credit card. Keep your credit utilization low by designating it for a single use, like groceries or gas. Pay your monthly statement on time and just like that, you’ll be on your way to building a solid credit history.
Student loans: For most, taking out student loans is a necessary part of funding your education. It’s important to be mindful of just how much you’re borrowing, though. Aim for federal loans first, as they often come with better repayment terms. If you or your family is in a situation to do so, consider making interest payment while in school to reduce your overall debt burden after graduation.
Student checking account: So, what makes a checking account specifically for students? These accounts typically have no monthly fees, easy access, and perks like ATM fee reimbursements or no overdraft fee – ultimately designed for learning about money management and not penalizing one-time mistakes.
Discounts and perks: Being a “broke” college student has its perks from time to time. Take advantage of students discounts on everything from textbooks and school supplies, to even bigger discounts on tech and car insurance. Believe it or not, your student ID can unlock doors on campus and serious savings!
Part time job: If you think you can add a part-time job to your workload, it’s an excellent way to earn extra income and gain valuable work experience. Find a job that offers flexible ours and prioritizes academic commitments. Many colleges offer a work-study program that makes it easy to work around your class schedule and academic obligations. Believe it or not, you could even receive compensation for taking notes in one of your courses!
Financial literacy: Along with your major, one of the most important things to educate yourself in during this period of your life is financial literacy. Many colleges recognize this and offer classes, workshops, and online resources to educate students on making informed financial decisions. Your parents and relatives can be great resources, too. Don’t hesitate to ask others for advice when it comes to big decisions that will affect your future.
For more financial resources and savings tips, please visit www.PennCommunityBank.com.