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7 Tips for Smart College Spending

For thousands of people every year, college looms as a major step towards being independent. Part of that independence is learning how to manage money, including developing good spending and savings habits. Your Oklahoma Central Credit Union Member Financial Representative can help you set up a savings or checking account, but you should also pay attention to these seven tips for smarter spending:

Budgeting is now a must-track all of your spending:

Blog 7 Tips for Smart College SpendingThis is the only way to avoid overspending on items that you may not need. Start with available income and fixed costs like housing, food and your automobile expenses. Make sure you have a good handle on these and determine what you have for “other” expenses.

Avoid paying full price when possible:

For example, textbooks can be purchased used, you can use coupons and many businesses offer student discounts. Take advantage of any method you can think of to save money, including watching for sales on normal goods you need for school and your home.

Cautiously build your credit:

While credit cards can be dangerous if you are not financially responsible, they can be instrumental in helping you build credit. Check out student credit cards and set up an automatic payment for your monthly balance. Use your card for small, manageable purchases and plan to pay the balance off each month.

Managing your student loans:

Whenever possible, avoid going further into debt. This may involve numerous tactics including working a part-time job while in school to pay for classes, making sure you register early so you don’t have to attend school during an extra semester or seeking out opportunities for scholarships and grants to help pay for your education. Consider putting any extra money on a monthly basis towards your student loans.

Be smart about fees:

Overdraft protection, ATM fees and other fees can add up dramatically and cost you hundreds of dollars per year. Whenever possible, avoid using your overdraft protection and make sure you are using ATMs that don’t charge excessive fees. Consider using a prepaid debit card if you can’t find an ATM nearby.

Take advantage of technology:

Having a snapshot of how much money you have available, when bills are due and how you’re doing with your budget is easier than ever thanks to the hundreds of budgeting applications available for your mobile device. Use these tools to make sure you are always on top of your spending and savings and to ensure you don’t miss payments, which could result in late fees. BillGuardLevelMoney and Wally are good apps to help you track your spending.

Avoiding identity theft:

It’s tempting to share your username and passwords with classmates with whom you share living space or a personal relationship. Regardless of how close you get to someone, avoid disclosing personal information. Also be wary of filling out forms that require your name and social security number and always verify how your information will be used. Identify theft is a serious issue that thousands of college students fall prey to every year. For college grads, it's especially important to be vigilant about protecting personal information as part of the broader effort to save money and maintain financial security post-graduation.

Whether you’re starting college soon and need help with student loans or you want to take advantage of our financial management tools, you can work with your Member Financial Representative today to get started on a path to smart spending and savings habits.

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