Financial tips for your college student


In the next couple of weeks, thousands of college students will be heading off to college for the first time. As parents, there is a wealth of information to impart to your children to make sure they have a successful college experience and that includes the financial aspects of college.
What are the five key tips for college freshman?

  1. Be organized

  2. Monitor your accounts

  3. Protect yourself from fraud and theft

  4. Be a smart shopper

  5. Have spending plan

How does being organized help college students?
Mostly it comes from not having to pay late fees, or higher costs for items they need to purchase. Being on top of when college bills are due, knowing what they need to purchase for classes and generally keeping track of important dates can save money and usually a significant amount of hassle as well.
Why should students monitor their accounts?
The biggest reason is to avoid fees for overdrafts. Setting up a low balance alert is probably the most important alert to help students avoid fees. The $5 coffee that becomes a $40 coffee because of overdraft fees can get expensive over the course of a semester. Students also need to monitor their bursar account too as not all fees or costs are always included at the beginning of the semester.
How can students protect themselves against fraud and theft?
Most college students won’t really know who all is coming in and out of their room on a daily basis. Basic precautions including keeping their money, gift cards and other valuables in a secure place is usually enough.  For fraud, the best precaution is to remember to not trust emails, texts or online links if they don’t know the source. Phishing is usually highly successful with college students who don’t question enough the validity of the source and are too willing to enter personal information.
What can a college student do to be a smart shopper?
Mostly it is related to asking for student discounts at restaurants, discounts from local stores and anything that is free for students. Another important skill to develop in your student is being a comparison shopper and not just settling for the first price or the easiest price. College students are notorious for taking the easiest path which can sometimes be the most expensive option.
How do you suggest the spending plan be developed?
For college students, a weekly amount for food, entertainment, clothes, and transportation can be a very useful tool. Best practice is to transfer that amount each week into their account to help lessen the temptation to overspend in a particular week.  Determining the amount can be easy, just divide how much you want to spend each semester by the number of weeks at school.

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