Learn how to manage your money
- Budgeting – Create an income and spending plan.
- Banking – Open a savings and checking account.
- Credit – Smart, safe and responsible usage.
- Student loan repayment options – Income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness options.
- Saving and investing – Maximize your savings as part of an early investment strategy.
Student Financial Services offers a series of Financial Literacy – Money Management monthly workshops. Check the events calendar for an upcoming workshop.
- Identity your goals: What do you want in the future? Do you want a car, apartment, large TV, or a new smart phone? Or do you want to save for the future to build wealth? Identifying your goals as a result of smart money management is a key first step. It can also prove to be rewarding as you
- Track your income and expenses: In order to manage your money you need to measure your income and expenses. Simply put, if you do not measure you cannot manage. The comparison is an airplane pilot without instruments. Don’t fly without instruments – measure your income and expenses. To start you may use some of the sample budgets in our resource section. Take the time to track your expense for at least two weeks. Every small expense should be entered. Coffee, snacks and all other expenses large or small. Preferably you should do this exercise for a month to catch almost all of your expenses. Also do the same for your income side of your future budget, which should be a lot simpler.
- Rank your expenses both fixed and flexible: Rank your fixed expenses first. These expenses are your most important such as rent, utilities, transportation and medical. Next rank your flexible expenses. Take time to see how you may lower or eliminate any flexible expenses. Examples include meals out, entertainment and snacks or expensive daily coffee. Find hidden flexible expenses such as ATM fees or subscriptions you no longer need.
- Add dates or time frames to budget: Adding dates will help you pay your bills on time. Please review the sample budgets in the resource section and try imputing your income and expenses as well as the corresponding dates for these budget items. Paying your bills on time is the best way to establish and improve your credit.
- Review and adjust your budget often: Review your budget every time you pay your bills. Make adjustments to your budget when opportunity present themselves to lower expenses. Lowering an expense is like getting a raise. Look for ways to increase your income. You may want to get a part-time job or add some hours to your current job to increase income.
- Pay yourself first automatically: The best savers pay themselves first and they try to do this automatically. Many do this through pension or 401K savings plans. Also these type of saving plans often have company match programs to provide you an incentive to save for yourself. Don’t leave money on the table if you have a company match. Put in at least as much as the company match if not more.
- Implement and trust your budget: Implementation is key. Once you start your budget trust what you have created and follow through on this important commitment. You will always make changes to your budget as need be, but starting and following through is critical.
- Money safety: A checking or savings account is safer than keeping money under your mattress. Bank accounts offer FDIC insurance. Your home does not offer the same security as a bank branch.
- Access to financial system: Pay bills that cannot be paid with cash. With a checking account you pay bills with a check or on-line. Eliminate the need for costly money orders to pay bills. Make purchases with your debit card. Access your money at your bank ATMs 24 X 7.
- Student checking or saving accounts: Ask the banks you are reviewing if they offer student accounts. Student accounts often have a low or no minimum balance requirements. They also generally do not require automatic direct deposit of a payroll check.
- Account features: Check into features offered with checking and savings accounts. Online banking, mobile deposits, text alerts and 24-hour customer service may be features you want to check into. Text alerts can notify you when funds are low or a transaction is suspicious.
- Account Fees: Check into account fees. Monthly fees, minimum balance fees, non-ATM fee and policy on insufficient funds fees should be reviewed prior to opening the account.
- Fund holds on your account: Merchants may place a hold on additional funds over transaction amount. You may not be able to access funds until hold is release. An example are hotels where a debit card is use the hotel may place a hold of funds in excess of the room rate for possible incidental charges.
- Direct deposit financial aid refunds and payroll: Use your account to deposit financial aid refunds and payroll checks. This speeds up the receipt of your funds generally in a more secure manner.
- Balance checking and saving account: Best way to avoid over draft charges is to monitor your accounts by balancing the accounts regularly to the penny. When you are balancing your account you can also check for any possible fraud like unauthorized transactions. Report any suspicious activity to your bank as soon as possible to mitigate
Check out these Money Management Apps
- Mint. This popular budgeting app also connects directly to your bank account and updates your spending automatically. You can create any number of budgets, and they can get as specific as you like: coffee, movies, alcohol and other college student necessities will all be accounted for.
- LearnVest. This app makes budgeting easy by securely linking to your bank account and filing your purchases into pre-named folders like Entertainment, Groceries, Restaurants and ATM/Cash, or you can create your own. You can set a budget for each folder, as well as for essentials like rent, student loans, and car payments.
- GoodBudget. This app allows you to set aside money for expenses into categories or “envelopes.” This makes it possible for expenses to be planned ahead.