Back to School Banking 101

Bennett Queen
Greater Nevada Credit Union

Winter break is almost over and soon many Nevada college students will head back to school for new classes, new teachers, and maybe even a new budget.

College is one of the fastest changing times of our lives and often the first time living away from home. Being on your own can be fun, though it can also lead to more stress if you don’t know how to keep your finances in order while keeping your grades up at the same time. Here are a few tips to help keep you on track.

Set a Budget

Every semester you should create a budget that looks at how much money you have to spend, minus expenses like food, books, loan payments, and utilities. Once you understand how much money is left over after paying your “fixed” expenses, you can determine what’s left for entertainment and unexpected expenses. 

Read our past blog about apps that make budgeting easy.

Pay Attention to Your Spending

Here’s the thing—a budget isn’t any good if you don’t stick to it. So why not make it easier to keep track of spending with free mobile apps, like Level Money. Or you can do it the traditional way by keeping and totaling your receipts on a regular basis. We fully support whatever method works best for you, as long as it helps you stick to your spending budget.  

Build Your Credit, Wisely

Now, you may be thinking that if you want to spend more money than you have its no problem. That’s what credit cards are for, right? Wrong! The way to use credit wisely is to not spend more than you can pay off, because credit cards are not free money. Instead, use them to build your credit history by charging just a little every month and promptly paying off the entire balance to avoid any charges, late fees, or even worse, mounting debt. Using your credit card in a responsible manner shows potential lenders (like those who might loan you money for a car) that you can be trusted to borrow money.

If you do need to carry a balance for the short term, look for a credit card that offers lower rates, like the   Greater Nevada Serenity MasterCard® .

Take Advantage of On-Campus Activities

Ask any college student and they will tell you that college is as much about the social experience as it is about the educational experience. College campuses are a treasure trove of social opportunity and here’s the best part, their events are usually free! Take advantage of everything the campus has to offer. It’s a great way to make new friends, participate in the college experience, and have a little fun without breaking your budget.

If you decide to go off campus for entertainment check your schools’ website, where you may find a list of businesses that give students a discount.

Plan for the Unexpected

Life is unpredictable. One minute you might be sitting in the school library enjoying a cup of coffee and then realize that you didn’t park in the correct zone for your pass. You sprint back to your car but not fast enough, because you find a white slip requiring you to dish out $50.

It’s important to put a little bit of money aside for when the unexpected happens, and the best place to do that is usually in a student checking or savings account. It’s safer than stashing money in your sock drawer, and you get the extra benefit of online banking and statements to keep better track and even automate your savings.

Have you learned any good budgeting tips while at college? Tell us about it on Facebook.

Sources:
Bank Independent Blog
Bankrate
U.S. News
 
01/20/2017