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Financial Literacy

Student Banking Tips for Back to School

woman in flannel smiling and loading a box into the trunk of a car while parents smile in the background

It’s so exciting to venture out into the real world! Whether you’re a student or a parent of a student entering into a trade, going off on your own, or headed back to school, it’s a big step; a milestone worth celebrating. And with that sweet, newfound freedom comes certain responsibilities. Possibly the most important, yet rewarding part of this chapter of a student’s life is becoming more financially responsible. People always say it pays to handle your money wisely, and they’re absolutely right! That’s why we’d like to offer students some helpful back-to-school financial tips to start you off strong on your journey.

Creating a Budget

Step one: you’ll want to create a budget. You’ve probably already heard how important it is to try to watch what you spend, but that is just a small part of budgeting. Think of a budget like your own personal guide to smart spending. More specifically, a budget is a game plan that includes a compilation of your estimated expenses over a specified future period of time. Budgets are typically re-evaluated on a regular basis and can be updated. They’re incredibly useful because they create stability. A budget can help you:

  • Achieve your long-term goals (i.e. buying a car)
  • Spend within your means
  • Plan ahead

By following a budget and tracking your expenses, you’ll find it easier to pay bills on time, save for major expenses, and build an emergency fund. An emergency fund is a financial safety net you put aside in case of an unexpected life event, such as a car accident, employment termination, or an illness. Experts usually say one should have three to six months’ worth of expenses. But that may seem daunting or impossible, especially now with prices skyrocketing and the thought of doing it on your own. Instead, try starting with a $500 goal, and then you can work on building that up in time.

Of course, you’ll want to analyze your regular spending habits so you have an idea of how much money you spend on average – this includes both bills and any fun purchases. You’ve got to treat yourself sometimes! You can make a list the old-fashioned way or use a budgeting app like Mint, that enables you to review all of your financial accounts and see where exactly your money is going.

You may want to consider opening a student bank account to help you stay on top of your finances. These are popular among college students as they come with multiple benefits (i.e. a free debit card, online banking, and easy bill pay). A student checking account offers guardrails, which are incredibly useful while you’re first starting out. You can look at your account at any time or use the statements to get a view of your financial habits. To qualify, you must be a full-time student.

Another important thing to do when budgeting is to give yourself some wiggle room. You should build in a buffer, just in case. Sometimes it’s difficult to stick to a budget, so don’t be hard on yourself. Life can definitely be unpredictable; you never know what might happen in the future. But you can try your best to prepare yourself. An excellent way to do so would be to open a savings account. They sure come in handy! A savings account would allow you to safely tuck your money away for the future. Now, we know saving money may be easier said than done at times. So here are a few ideas on how to make saving on back to school a breeze.

Tips on How to Save

For Retail Therapy

If you need to buy new clothing, supplies, or textbooks for classes, take a look at what you already have and make a clear list of what to buy to avoid overspending on impulse purchases. Then, scope things out online so you can compare prices with no hassle. You could probably get some bargains at the big retailers, so keep an eye out for any sales and hang onto any coupons you receive. But you might be able to get what you need at secondhand shops, for a better deal. Thrift stores like Goodwill, and websites like Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp are excellent places to look! You may be surprised at what you could get there, not to mention the condition of some items. Sometimes you can find things that were never even used.

For Technology & Other Gadgets

If you’re in the market for some tech gear, refurbished electronics can be just as good as their new counterparts, and cost less. Look for a certified used model from a reputable seller like Amazon or Best Buy. Some stores offer financing options.

For Food and More

Let’s talk food, too. Once you start classes or the new job, you can save money by preparing meals at home to take with you on the go, rather than eating out. But there’ll be times when you get a craving. So take advantage of any coupons and discounts. Many fast food joints have mobile apps that offer users exclusive ways to save, too!

And going back to budgeting, plan ahead to have more peace of mind. That means determining your priorities for each month ahead of time, such as rent, food, a car payment, and any bills you need to pay. Once your essentials and money goals are accounted for, then you figure out how much “fun money” you have to spend on fun stuff. It’s okay to splurge from time to time! You work hard, and life is too short not to reward yourself.

Speaking of rewards, credit cards can be helpful as they offer benefits like the ability to build your credit and earn rewards points or cash from making purchases. When used responsibly, credit cards can be very helpful.

Credit Cards 101

A credit card is a form of payment that may be used as a short-term loan, or for convenience. Making normal purchases and paying your credit card bill by its due date are great ways to raise your credit score. Your credit score reflects your creditworthiness, or how reliable you are as a borrower.

It’s important to make note of when your credit card bill is due because you can be penalized for forgetting to pay it. For instance, your credit score may drop significantly and you might receive a late fee. If you’re able to, try to pay your credit card bill in its entirety by its due date to avoid interest charges and any fees. In cases where that’s not possible, you could pay the minimum on your card and carry a balance. Keep in mind that some interest will accrue on the balance.

Easily Open a Bank Account with HCB

The Highlands Community Bank team would be happy to set you up with a bank account and discuss all your financial needs as you embark on this chapter! Here, we make things simple and we like to look out for everyone. That’s why as a customer, you’ll find many benefits in banking with us. Contact us today to put your best foot forward!

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