Cut college costs with savings tips

Pink piggy bank with a dollar bill in the slot

College is an exciting time for young adults. For many freshmen, college is the first time they are on their own and out from their parents’ roof. This comes with many challenges, including financial issues.

Expense is certainly one of the most difficult aspects of college. Money management is tough for all ages, but can be especially stressful to students who are dealing with newfound independence and hectic class schedules. A checking account is a great tool that can help students budget. Along with keeping funds safe and secure, some checking accounts even offer student perks. Ohio Valley Bank’s Right Start Checking is available to customers ages 16-25. With this account, students can still have the comfort of their hometown bank as well as enjoy no monthly service fee and five free non-OVB ATM transactions per month. In addition, Right Start Checking enables access to free mobile banking, which is a great asset for students who go away to school. Through this feature, eligible students may deposit a check from the comfort of campus.

While college is the first step into adulthood, parents should still communicate with their college-aged children, especially when it comes to money issues. Helping them balance a checkbook as well as educating them on the importance of saving can make a huge difference. Working together on a college budget can be a tremendous help for new freshmen as well. Many college students participate in work study programs or work part-time jobs and internships to earn money, while others receive an allowance from their parents. Regardless of how income is generated, setting and sticking with a budget will help college students stay on track financially as well as benefit them post-graduation.

A good tool to help stick with a budget, is OVB’s Benjamin Tracker, which enables users to manage money, monitor spending, set goals, and actually see where their money goes. This free product, which is available through both NetTeller internet banking and the OVB App, is an important resource for those looking to save money and improve their financial health. As college students are managing their own finances for the first time, Benjamin Tracker is very beneficial as it provides a visual of where they should cut costs.

There are many other ways to save in college. Here are some of our top tips:

  1. Use your student ID. Many businesses from retail shops to restaurants to hair salons offer discounts to college students. Most only require to see a valid student ID. The discounts might be small, but every little bit helps when you live on a college shoestring budget. Most campus student unions provide a list of locations that offer student discounts.
  2. Make the most of your meal plan. Many college freshmen live on campus and have a meal plan included in their housing fee. While it may be tempting to skip the cafeteria and go for takeout instead, it is wasting money when you already have food paid for in your meal plan. If you are unhappy with your meal plan, look into other campus options. Many college campuses have additional cafes and shops that use meal plan credits or offer discounts.
  3. Split costs with roommates. Sharing really is caring. If you are living with a roommate or roommates, work together to divvy up the items needed for your dorm or apartment. Not only do you avoid have duplicate items, you all benefit by saving money. Food is a great part of sharing with roommates. If you really can’t stand to use your meal plan sometimes, pool your money to order a pizza. Avoid buying coffee before class every morning by going in on a coffee maker together. Working together on these little things will help you all save.
  4. Check out campus events. It is always tempting to go out in college and explore your new town, but that can put a strain on your wallet. Thankfully most colleges offer a wide-array of student events that are free. From concerts and dances to festivals and more, your university most likely has you covered. Not only do you get a chance to explore your school, but you don’t have to go broke either.
  5. Cut costs with used textbooks. One of the first noticeable expenses for many college students is their required textbook prices. A great way to save is to purchase used versions. Most campus bookstores offer used copies and many also allow you to sell your books back at the end of the semester. If you are friends with a classmate, consider sharing books as another way to save.
  6. Watch application dates. Many scholarships renew as long as you continue to fill out the required forms on time. Missing these due dates could drastically affect the cost of your tuition. Set phone alerts to make sure you are on top of this.
  7. Be cautious when it comes to credit. Using credit cards irresponsibly is a problem many adults encounter. If you have a credit card, only use it knowing you have the necessary funds to make your payments on time. Avoid cards with an annual fee. Most importantly, do not rely on credit for day-to-day expenses.
  8. Seek out free transportation. If you are on a large campus instead of driving everywhere, see if there are free transportation options. Many large universities offer complimentary shuttle services. When going out with friends, carpool or pool your money on a transportation service, such as Uber or Lyft.
  9. Cut the cable. Cable can be quite expensive. Cable isn’t really necessary, when your focus should be on school. There are many free student events, including movie nights or sporting events, which can replace your television time. If you are lucky, maybe your campus housing will provide cable. If not, consider sharing the costs of an online streaming service with roommates if access to television is a necessity you can’t live without.
  10. Make school your top priority. College life is so much more than classwork and studying, but at the end of the day the main reason you are there is to learn. By keeping your main focus on school you will be less likely to become distracted, and as a result, will avoid spending your money on unnecessary things.

College is a perfect time to learn and grow before jumping into adulthood. By making sound financial decisions in college, you will be on the right track when it comes to starting your life and career. From all of us at OVB, have a happy and successful semester!

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