Going off to college is perhaps one of the most exciting yet frightening times for young adults. During this typically hectic time of packing and preparing for the start of school, financial preparedness is often overlooked. Here are some tips that may help to alleviate some of the financial stress facing college students.
- Create a Budget – It is important to get all of your expenses listed on paper so you can determine how much you will need on a weekly and monthly basis. Don’t forget to account for “fun” money each week. While it is important to create a budget, it is even more important to stick to it which can be a challenge. One approach that works well is to take cash out of the bank or ATM each week to cover your expenses. Leave your debit and credit cards in a secured location in your dorm so you are not tempted to make impulsive purchases outside of your budget.
- Follow Your Dining Plan – Make sure that you are maximizing the meal credits on your dining plan. It is easy to blow your budget by eating out too frequently. Look at your meal plan as if it were a bank account, you don’t want to throw away “money” at the end of the semester.
- Consider Transportation – While having your car at school can be convenient, it is often an expensive luxury. Will you actually use the car enough to warrant the cost of gas and a parking pass? Most colleges and universities offer some sort of bus transportation around campus and to key places in the community like grocery stores. Another alternative to consider is a bike. It is much less costly to store and also provides a good form of exercise.
- Avoid Financial Scams – Beware of Craigslist and personal shopper scams that provide “easy” ways to get money. Never accept a payment where the issuer instructs you to send back proceeds. Do your research to stay informed of current financial scams. Get into the habit of requesting your free credit report annually and check for any irregularities – this is one of the best ways to protect yourself from fraudulent activity.
- Keep Your Personal Info Safe – Keep personal and financial information in a safe or a locked drawer. Avoid free public Wi-Fi networks and only use your own secured Wi-Fi network for financial transactions. Be aware of ATM skimmers and when using your debit card be aware of your surroundings and always safeguard your PIN.
- Utilize Technology – Stay on top of your finances by taking advantage of the tools offered by your bank. Univest, for example, has secure and convenient options to receive your financial information such as daily emails that provide a snapshot of your account and alerts sent to your phone when your balance goes below a certain threshold. You can even deposit checks using your mobile device, transfer money to a friend, and access your account 24/7 to check your balance or deactivate a misplaced card with the mobile app.
Understanding the importance of and applying these tips now will help you on your way to a long and healthy financial future. For additional tips on financial preparedness as you head into college or to discuss the various tools for conducting your banking while away at school, please contact your local Univest Financial Center today.
Univest Bank and Trust Co. is Member FDIC.