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.

Celebrate Summer Staycation Style

Father and son campingAlong with sunshine and barbecues, the summer season is often associated with travel. Summer vacations are a tradition for many families. However, the cost of summer travel can be quite high.

Families looking to save money as well as make the most of their summer might want to try a staycation. While it may seem boring at first to not travel far for your vacation, with a little creativity your family could have a wonderful time.

Staycations are a great way to really explore your local community. You might be surprised what you discover. Staycations aren’t limited to simply “staying at home” as day trips to other places around your state can be part of your plans. Here are some low-cost ideas to help you save money as well as make the most of your staycation this summer:

  1. Check out your local scene. While you may reside in/work in an area, chances are you’ve missed some of its “nooks and crannies.” Even if you’ve lived in the same place your entire life, there could still be places or activities that you didn’t know existed. Visit your tourism center to get started. Consider it an adventure!
  2. Many towns both big and small usually have various summer events and festivals. Find a schedule for those occurring in your area. Many of these summer festivals typically offer family activities and even free concerts.
  3. Use your staycation as a time to not only explore but to also work on your fitness. You can do this by visiting your local parks and outdoor walking trails. This can be a great way to relax outside and allow the kids to let loose. To make it a day of fun in the sun bring along a picnic lunch.
  4. For fun that is educational, check out your town and surrounding areas for museums. Many local museums often offer a unique experience. Several museums also typically provide special events and classes.
  5. Speaking of classes, a staycation is the perfect time to take a class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Art classes are popular at many local galleries/museums. Also, several places now offer one night paint lessons, where you not only learn but also get to take home your own artistic creation. This is something fun you could do with friends or your partner. For fitness classes, check out your local gym’s schedule.
  6. Give Geocaching a try. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Your local chamber of commerce, library, or visitors’ bureau is a great place to get started.
  7. If the Geocaching scene in your area isn’t great, plan a scavenger hunt for your family instead. A family scavenger hunt is a great way to get in quality time. Offer fun prizes for winners, such as “choose dinner” or “no chores for a week” certificates.
  8. Visit your local swimming pool or area waterpark.
  9. Take a family camping trip from the comfort of your own backyard. If you have the supplies, set up a tent and spend a fun night under the stars. If you don’t have the items you need, you can easily enjoy other fun parts of camping, such as making s’mores or sharing ghost stories around the fire pit.
  10. If you can handle it, try going unplugged for a week. In today’s technology-driven society, it’s rare to see someone out and about without their cellphone in hand. Turn off your devices, except in the case of an emergency, and enjoy the quiet. Going unplugged can give you plenty of spare time you never knew you had! Not only will you be able to spend more time with family, but going unplugged for a week could leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to return to work after vacation.
  11. Visit your local library. In addition to having a variety of books and movies to choose from, many libraries offer special events and activities during the summer months. From book clubs to summer reading programs, your library can be fun for the entire family.
  12. Host a family movie night. Allow each member of the family to select a movie of their choice from either your family’s collection or on streaming sites, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Grab some microwave popcorn and settle in. You can even theme your living room to be your own private cinema, or if you have the capabilities to do so, set up a screen in your backyard and enjoy movie time under the stars.
  13. If you aren’t in the mood for a family movie night, try a game night instead. Go the classic route with board and card games or go modern style with console/computer games.
  14. Visit your area amusement park and/or zoo. While you may have to travel a few hours to reach your destination, this can be a wonderful day trip for your family.

There certainly are several routes you can go with your summer staycation. Our ideas are just a few of the many activities out there to plan a terrific time for your entire family to enjoy. Remember a summer vacation doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Minding the Gap: A Practice in Financial Feminism

Guest Post by Tammy G. Bruzon, America Saves

America Saves, a national campaign that promotes savings, notes significant differences in savings between men and women. A 2014 survey showed that women displayed a greater interest in savings, but there was no greater savings effort or savings effectiveness compared to men. But just two years later in the same survey, the gender gap leapt off the page. Woman were notably behind across 12 important financial indicators including consumer debt, savings habits, emergency savings, and general savings progress. Read more of this post

Don’t Miss These 5 Opportunities for Automatic Savings

By Janet Alvarez, Wise Bread

Most of us understand that saving regularly is one of the simplest ways to reach our financial goals, but we don’t all take advantage of easy ways to automate our savings. As part of America Saves Week, we’ve devised a list of five automatic savings opportunities that are often overlooked. These go a step beyond mere automatic transfers from checking to savings. They’re easy, straight-forward ways to save money automatically that most of us don’t take advantage of yet, and they increase your chances of reaching your goals even faster.

1.  Direct Deposit Your Tax Refund Into Savings
According to the IRS, the average American’s tax refund now stands at over $3,100. Don’t let that windfall slip through your fingers. Deposit all or part of it into your savings account, instead, and watch your money grow. Plus, the IRS allows direct deposits into one or more accounts, such as a checking and savings account, which means you can choose to spend a portion and save the rest. (I’d recommend saving all you can.) Conveniently, you can also direct deposit all or part of your refund into your Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or use it to purchase up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I Savings Bonds. You can split your refund using tax preparation software, or Form 8888, if you use paper filing.

2. Don’t Forget Bonuses or Commissions
Do you get quarterly or yearly bonuses? Are commissions a part of your earnings? Then don’t forget to direct deposit all or part of these funds into your savings. Consult with your employer about direct depositing the funds into your savings account, or set up automatic transfers from your checking to savings accounts when you expect the funds.

Another alternative? Increase the contributions on your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), during those times you receive extra earnings. It’ll help you max out your contributions faster and earn any applicable company match to boost your savings even further. Consult with your HR representative or your company’s online retirement plan portal to manage your contributions.

3. Save Your Spare Change
Some banks and credit unions offer programs which automatically round up to the next dollar on any purchases you make, and transfer the spare change from your checking to savings account. These programs are free, and provide a fool-proof way to jumpstart your savings and always pay yourself first. You probably won’t miss the spare change in your checking account, but your savings will sure be glad for the extra boost. Even small amounts saved over time add up.

4. Credit Card Rewards Can Boost Savings, Too
Many popular credit cards rewards programs offer several rewards options, ranging from airline miles or hotel points to cash back. Sadly, many credit card rewards perks often go unused, making them less than rewarding. But if you choose to receive rewards in the form of cash back, instead, many cards will deposit the rewards sum directly into an account of your choice. If you’re limited to receiving the funds into checking, you can always transfer the funds to savings. Either way, you’re boosting your savings painlessly. Don’t forget to pay off the balance on your card at the end of every month to avoid costly interest fees, otherwise you’ll spend more on interest than you’ll receive in rewards.

5. Set Your Savings Rate Higher
So, you think you’re a savings pro now that you’ve got regular transfers or direct deposits into your savings account? Well, you can go a step further still by periodically increasing your savings rate, whether to your employer-sponsored retirement plan or your savings account. Many 401(k) plans allow users to opt-in to periodic increases in their savings rates, such as a 1 percent increase in their contributions per year. If you prefer to contribute to a savings account or other savings vehicle, consider increasing your contributions regularly, such as every time you get a raise.

Having the foresight to automate your savings can help you beat temptation and stay ahead financially. And the techniques described above are easy ways to take your savings to the next level.

Janet Alvarez is the Executive Editor for Wise Bread and a contributor to TheStreet.com and U.S. News & World Report.

Back to School Time

Back to school vector sketch lettering and hand drawn watercolor alarm clock.

It’s back to school time!

 

Now that students have soaked up the summer sun, it’s time to dust off the books and head back to school.

A new school year brings with it change as well as many new challenges. Often these challenges can cause many parents financial stress. From the increasing costs of school supplies, clothing, athletics, and meals, many families find their budgets becoming a little tighter during the academic year. However, there are ways to save money with proper planning.

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 such program in place or if you have a picky eater you can still find ways to cut costs. Budgeting is key when making school lunches. Advance planning is also helpful. By knowing about how much lunch costs will be you can create menus early. Take advantage of coupons and deals when grocery shopping. In addition, stock your pantry with lunch items that have a long shelf life so you will be set for weeks to come. Involve your child in the planning of meals as well. Not only do they learn a financial lesson on budgeting and costs, but it also assures that the food you pack won’t go to waste.

School supplies are another costly back to school expense. If you missed out on your state’s tax free holiday or if your state did not have such event, there are still ways you can save money. With many retailers having rolled out their school supplies mid-summer, now is the time to check for sales. Once your child begins classes be sure to look through their school provided items. If you purchased items that the school also provided, either return your items or put them aside for next school year. In addition, many schools gladly accept donations of school supplies.

If you still haven’t finished your back to school clothes shopping, check area retailers for seasonal sales. Generally as late fall/winter clothing are already front and center on the racks in most stores, many retailers often have their summer/early fall clothing prices slashed. Taking advantage of off-season sales can make a huge difference on your wallet. Keep this in mind as you shop throughout the school year as well. Also, take advantage of your local consignment shops. Many consignment shops offer fashionable clothing for kids at a significantly lower price. Purchasing clothing at consignment shop prices also can be the perfect opportunity for parents who find themselves buying more kids clothing than usual due to their child’s ongoing growth spurts. In addition, many consignment shops will offer credit in exchange for gently used clothes.

Locally, Cabell County students returned to school last week. Other area schools are scheduled to start on the following dates:

 

  • Jackson City Schools – Wednesday, August 17
  • Wellston Local Schools – Wednesday, August 17
  • Gallia County Schools – Wednesday, August 17
  • Mason County Schools – Thursday, August 18
  • Oak Hill Union Local Schools – Monday, August 22
  • Gallipolis City Schools – Tuesday, August 23
  • Meigs Local Schools – Wednesday, August 24
  • Western Local Schools – Wednesday, August 24
  • Southern Local Schools – Wednesday, August 24
  • Waverly City Schools – Thursday, August 25
  • Eastern Local Schools (Pike) – Thursday, August 25
  • Eastern Local Schools (Meigs) –Thursday, August 25

 

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.

Save Money During Your Summer Vacation

beach_sun

School is out, the sun is beaming and temperatures are rising. This can only mean one thing: summer has arrived! Along with warmer weather, summer is typically vacation season for many families.

 

Summer vacations are a great way to relax and take in new experiences. However, the stress of money spent on trips can often damper the getaway fun. Typically food costs along with the expense of experiences during vacations means shelling out more cash than your budget generally allows.

 

With proper planning the stress of vacation money troubles can be eliminated. If you plan to fly, check for airlines that offer special deals, such as a free bag check. If this isn’t an option consider only bringing a carry-on for your trip. Take advantage of the free beverage and snacks available on the plane instead of spending money on overpriced food at the airport and during your flight. Avoiding extra airline fees can make a world of difference when it comes to vacation costs.

Read more of this post