It might not be on your class schedule, but “Financial Stability Fall 2019” is a real-world lesson in which you’ll want to make the grade. These four tips will have you well on your way toward acing money-management this semester and beyond.
For many traditionally aged undergrads, college may be the first time you’ll do a lot of banking and bill paying on your own (especially if you leave home to live on or closer to campus). Before the semester begins, take some time to review the services and features your financial institution offers. You definitely will want a fee-free checking account, and one with no minimum balance requirement. Bank fees are the last thing you want taking a bite out of your semester’s budget.
If you’re leaving home for school, your financial institution should either have a convenient ATM near campus, or should waive ATM fees. Some credit unions and banks even offer checking accounts and debit cards designed specifically for college students, as well as student-focused money-management guidance.
Imagine how it would feel to get a nice lump-sum of cash at the end of the school year. Pretty good, right? Well, remind yourself of that feeling the next time you, a roommate or a guest considers doing something that could jeopardize your security deposit, whether that’s nailing decorations to the walls when it’s technically against your lease or pet-sitting your friend’s accident-prone puppy in a non-pet friendly apartment. If you’ve rented before, this is all old news to you, but if your off-campus apartment marks the first time you’ll sign your own lease, take heed. Follow the terms of your lease and keep the property in the same condition you found it in. And, protect yourself by documenting any preexisting stains, scratches or dings with date-stamped photos when you first take possession of the keys.
In many college towns, you can find numerous local restaurants, entertainment venues, laundromats and even pharmacies and grocery stores offering student discounts. Usually you just have to show your campus ID. Participating businesses often will have some kind of sign in the window or at checkout, but if you’re not sure, you can always ask. When shopping online check out sites like retailmenot.com for lists of online retailers offering discounts to customers with a verified college or university email address. If you attend an urban campus, odds are good you can get a deal on public transit in your school’s home city. On the other hand, if you drive to class, ask your auto insurance provider if they offer a student discount. And, of course, don’t forget about the biggies like Amazon Prime Student, as well as Spotify or Apple Music student discounts.
Right or wrong there is sometruth in the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking may sound scary or sleazy, but what we’re really talking about here is building connections in your future field – and regardless of your year in school, now is the right time to start. You can do this by joining campus organizations related to your major or career interests, assisting a professor with a project, completing an internship or just getting involved on campus in a positive, productive way. These are the kinds of college activities that help set you up for financial success long after you’ve crossed the graduation stage.