Don’t get bogged down by college costs

2018 College Savings Pic

Starting college is an exciting, challenging time for many young adults. With college comes new responsibilities, such as living away from home for the first time. One of the most difficult aspects of college is the expense.

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. Students who will be going away to school can still choose the comfort of their hometown bank with Ohio Valley Bank’s Right Start Checking for customers ages 16-25. 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.

Parents should also make having a conversation about budgeting with their college-aged children a priority. By keeping the lines of communication open, college students may not feel as overwhelmed knowing they can still turn to parents for financial advice.

Creating a budget with your college student doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple budget outlining money coming in compared to projected monthly expenses is the first step. Once that has been determined, calculate an “allowance” amount, which can go toward the expense of extra activities including special events, games and concerts. Make sure to keep track of all expenditures. Take advantage of helpful budgeting tools, such as OVB’s Benjamin Tracker.

If you have a student starting college this fall, or are headed off to school yourself, we’ve put together some additional tips to help you stick to your budget:

  1. Explore campus events. It might be tempting to go out in your new college town, but with that comes added expense. Fortunately, most college campuses offer a variety of free or low-cost events to students. From concerts to dances to cook-outs, your university most likely has a schedule of campus events on tap.
  2. Seek out student discounts. You might be surprised at the amount of student discounts available. Most places that offer discounts simply need to see a copy of your student ID. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit your campus student union to see if they have a list of restaurants and businesses that offer student discounts.
  3. Sharing is caring. If you have roommates who don’t mind sharing, divvy up the items needed for your dorm/apartment to both save money and avoid having duplicates. Consider going in together for snacks, cleaning products, and other necessities. For example, splitting the cost of a coffee maker for your dorm can be a cost-saver in the long run as it will help you avoid the temptation of buying gourmet coffee every morning.
  4. Look for work study opportunities or a part-time job. If you are confident you can balance it with your classwork, a part-time job can be a great way to earn extra money while at school. If you qualify for a work study program, look into that opportunity. If not check out what part-time jobs are available on or close to campus. Even better if you can find a job that works as an internship, which could give you class credit as well as valuable experience.
  5. Purchase used textbooks if available. College textbooks can be very expensive, but are absolutely necessary. Many university book stores offer used textbooks at a much cheaper price. Also, a great way to make money is to sell your textbooks after the semester. Many campus bookstores will buy back both used and new textbooks. If you have a classmate you trust, consider going in together to purchase textbooks to share.
  6. Look for deals on computers. The start of the academic year usually brings sales on laptops and desktop computers. If you’ve already purchased your computer make sure to protect it with virus software. That may be an extra expense at first, but it will not only keep your computer secure but can save you money in the long run by avoiding repair costs. If a computer is simply out of your budget, fortunately most colleges have free computer labs on campus.
  7. Be wary of credit. Overusing credit cards is a common problem with all ages, but often first-time users are affected. If you have a credit card make sure to only use it knowing you will have the funds to make your payments on time. Avoid cards with an annual fee and look for ones with a low interest rate. Do not rely on credit for day-to-day expenses.
  8. Avoid eating out. It might be tempting to dine out with your friends, however, that can make quite a dent in your budget. If you are already paying for a school meal plan, absolutely make sure you are using it. When you want a change of pace split the cost of a pizza with roommates or plan on going out to eat only once a week if your budget allows.
  9. Cut cable. If your campus housing provides cable, great and lucky you. If not, cable is an expense that really isn’t necessary while in school. With the accessibility of streaming services you can easily survive without cable and your wallet will thank you.
  10. Look for free transportation. If you are on a large campus rather than drive everywhere wasting gas, see what type of free transportation is available. Many large campuses offer complimentary shuttle services to students. When going out with friends chip in for the cost of gas money or split the cost of a transportation service, such as Uber or Lyft.
  11. Watch application dates. Many scholarships renew as long as you fill out the necessary paperwork/application on time. Do not miss these dates as they could drastically affect the cost of your classes.
  12. Remember to save. Saving money might seem difficult when you are running a tight budget, but any amount can help you in the future. It’s a good idea to always have money tucked away in a savings account. Any amount you can save will be helpful, even if it’s the spare change you find in your car.
  13. Save on laundry expense. It’s always a great idea to do your laundry for free when you visit home on the weekends. However, if you aren’t able to do so consider purchasing a drying rack, which can help you save money by avoiding dryer expense. Keep a jar of change to use for laundry so you can avoid having to withdrawal cash from your account.
  14. Focus on school. The most important tip is to remember that classes should be your number one focus. By keeping school itself as your top priority you will be less likely to spend in other places.

Remember that college is an opportunity to grow into adulthood, and making sound financial decisions is the right step to being successful. OVB wishes all first-time and returning college students a great semester!

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