College student savings survival guide

Concept of expensive textbooks with female student

As students are preparing to go back to school this fall, many of them will start their first year of college. College is no doubt an exciting time, and for many college freshmen it marks the first step to “freedom.” However, this newfound freedom often comes with more responsibility, including managing money for the first time.

College freshman often find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to their finances. Rest assured, there are ways to avoid the “broke college student” stereotype. The first step is to create and stick with a budget. A college student’s budget doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple budget that outlines money coming in compared to expected monthly expenses is a great way to get started. Setting an allowance for extra activities, such as special events, games, and concerts, is another factor to include in the budget.

Managing money as a college student can be made easier by opening a checking account. A checking account is a great tool that can help students stick to their budgets as well as keep money safe and secure. Ohio Valley Bank offers the Right Start Checking account for customers ages 16-25, which makes it a perfect option for college students. This account has no monthly service fee and allows five free non-OVB ATM transactions per month. In addition, Right Start Checking enables access to eDelivery statements and free online mobile banking. For students who are away at school, mobile banking is a great asset. Through this feature, students are able to deposit a check using their smartphone from the comfort of campus.

If you are off to college for the first time or are returning and want to better manage your finances, check out these additional tips:

  1. Keep your eyes peeled for student discounts. You may be surprised by how many businesses and restaurants offer student discounts. It doesn’t hurt to ask as this isn’t always advertised. Make sure to always have your student I.D. with you to take advantage of any discounts offered.
  2. Take advantage of free campus events. It may seem tempting to go off campus to see a movie or attend a concert, but many college student unions sponsor a variety of free entertainment events. From movie screenings to dances to festivals and more, look to see what is being offered for free on campus. This allows you to still have fun with friends without breaking the bank.
  3. Utilize your student meal plan. While it may be tempting to dine off campus, it’s also an unnecessary expense when you are already paying for a meal plan. If you still aren’t sold on your school’s food, perhaps opt out of your meal plan entirely so you can use that money to purchase your own groceries.
  4. Share with friends. When it comes to eating out consider splitting the cost of a pizza with friends. This way you can still get a treat and save money. Sharing costs for other things like groceries or movie streaming services is another great way to save.
  5. Be careful when it comes to credit. If you use credit cards wisely it is a good thing as it will help you raise your credit score. However, not making good credit choices can be quite problematic. With a credit card comes new responsibility and using too much credit is a problem when you find yourself unable to pay your bill. Remember to only use credit when you know that you have enough money to pay the balance. Also be selective when choosing a credit card. Research the card’s annual percentage rate as well as any annual and penalty fees that may be associated with it.
  6. If you can, pick up a part-time job. Of course school should be your number one priority, but if you are able, a part-time job can help you tremendously. Many colleges offer work study programs to students who qualify. If you can’t get into a work study program, look for other job options that can work around your class schedule. Also, if it’s possible look into a job and/or internship related to your field of study, which would not only provide you with extra cash but also give you valuable career-related experience.
  7. Shop wisely at the campus bookstore. Most college courses require you to purchase textbooks, which when bought new can be expensive. If the option is available, purchase used books. This is typically a much cheaper option. Also, sell back your used textbooks at the end of the semester to make some extra cash. If the book store prices are simply not affordable, check out online retailers, such as Amazon, to see if you can get the textbook you need at a reduced price. Another idea is to check with friends who previously took the same course to see if you could borrow their textbook. If you can make it work, sharing textbook costs with friends is a great money saver.
  8. Start saving now. Most financially successful adults begin saving their money at a young age. While it might be tempting to spend the money you have and earn while in school, you can help your future self tremendously by saving your money at a young age. Even if it’s a small amount that you set aside for your savings account each week, it will be beneficial to your future. Saving money in college can help you pay off your debts, such as student loans, faster.

College is a great time to grow and take the first steps into adulthood. Making smart financial choices in college is a good path to take on the journey to a successful career. OVB wishes all first time and returning college students a wonderful semester!

 

It’s time to go back to school

Back to school

Summer sun has been fun, but now it’s time to be cool and go back to school.

While it’s always sad when summer comes to a close, going back to school can be an exciting time. Autumn temperatures, new academic challenges, and fall sports mark the start of the school year. For many parents, however, the new school year can also be expensive. With the increasing costs of school supplies, clothing, meals, and athletics, many families find their budgets to be a bit tighter than usual.

To make sure you don’t overspend on school supplies, contact your child’s school first and request a list. Many schools already have supply lists available, and often each list is organized per grade level. By sticking to the list you won’t waste money on items that will be provided by the school and you will know exactly what to purchase to avoid overspending. In Ohio, take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday, slated for Aug. 4-5, to help save money. For more information, visit http://www.tax.ohio.gov/sales_and_use/salestaxholiday.aspx .

If you missed or are unable to shop during the Sales Tax Holiday, many retailers already start rolling back prices on school supplies in August. Keep your eyes peeled for any sales. Once your child begins classes make sure to again look through their school provided items. If you purchased any items that the school already has, either return them or put them aside for next year. Many schools will gladly accept a donation of your unused supplies as well.

When it comes to new clothes for the school year, with growing children many parents find themselves having to purchase entirely new wardrobes. If you are still working on your back to school clothes shopping, check area retailers for seasonal sales. In many climates, winter clothes are not necessary until a few months into the school year. However, many retailers already have their winter attire front and center. The good news is quite often the summer and early fall pieces are now in the sale section. Taking advantage of seasonal sales can help you save tremendously on back to school clothes.

As kids continue to grow out of their current sizes at a rapid rate, consider the value of buying from consignment shops. Many consignment shops offer fashionable clothing at a significantly lower price. In addition, many consignment shops will offer credit in exchange for gently used items.

Another expense of the new school year is lunch costs. When it comes to school lunches the amount parents spend can vary greatly. Fortunately in our local area, many schools offer a free lunch program. However, if your child’s school does not have this program in place or if you have a picky eater, you may have to find other ways to save on lunch expenses. The best way to start is including school lunch costs in your monthly budget. Advance planning is also key. By knowing what foods your child likes as well as an estimated cost, you can create menus to help with your meal prep. Be sure to involve your child in the meal planning. By keeping your kids interested it assures the food won’t go to waste and they will learn a financial lesson on budgeting as well.

When planning your child’s lunches, also make sure to take advantage of coupons while grocery shopping. Keep track of coupons in your local newspaper as well as look around the store for any deals. Another helpful tip to cut down on lunch costs is purchasing items that have a long shelf life. Stock your pantry full of these items and you will be set for weeks to come.

Locally, students are set to return to school on the following dates:

  • Cabell County Schools – Thursday, August 10
  • Jackson City Schools – Wednesday, August 16
  • Washington City Schools – Wednesday, August 16
  • Miami Trace Schools – Wednesday, August 16
  • Mason County Schools – Thursday, August 17
  • Westfall Schools – Thursday, August 17
  • Wellston Local Schools – Monday, August 21
  • Gallipolis City Schools – Monday, August 21
  • Madison Plains Schools – Monday, August 21
  • Eastern Local Schools (Pike) – Tuesday, August 22
  • Gallia County Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Oak Hill Union Local Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Meigs Local Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Western Local Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Waverly City Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Southern Local Schools – Thursday, August 24
  • Eastern Local Schools (Meigs) –Thursday, August 24

Ohio Valley Bank offers best wishes for another great school year. For information on OVB’s financial literacy programs, visit www.ovbc.com or e-mail OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush at hdroush@ovbc.com.