Off To College: Money Management

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The following is one in a series of articles for students heading off to college. To help make your transition to school a smooth one, why not download your free copy of our College Moving Checklist today?

When you’re hundreds, even thousands of miles away from home and are attending college, how will you manage your money? The best option is to establish a checking account at a bank that serves both your home community and your college campus, but not every national bank is able to cover such wide territory.

100 dollarsRegardless, you’ll need to open up a new checking account or find ways that you can access your funds remotely. Your parents will probably handle the tuition payment, but funds for personal effects, food and certain incidentals should be safely kept in a bank account.

Let’s take a look at some ideas on how you can manage your money while you’re away at college:

New Checking Account — If your bank has offices in both your home town and your college town, then they may be a natural to do business with.  Most banks extend a free checking account for college students which should include an automatic teller machine (ATM) card which doubles as a debit card. Find a bank that offers all that along with online checking and you’ll be in good hands no matter where you go.

Keep Your Bank — If your account is with a community bank, then branches beyond the local area are rare. What you’ll want to do, in order to avoid fees, is to find a bank near campus that has the same ATM network as your home town bank. In many cases if you make a deposit or withdrawal at a bank within that network you’ll avoid fees. In some other cases you’ll still incur fees but your bank may waive or cover them automatically for you. You can also get extra “cash back” anytime that you use your debit card with most retailers too.

Wire Transfers — Western Union still transfers money by “wire” services which means that if you have a shortfall of cash, your local office will process money that your parents send to you. But, some major retailers also provide this service (including Wal*Mart) for a fraction of Western Union’s fees. Note: Avoid check cashing stores who will charge you a mint to cash a check.

Online Access — One way to circumvent brick and mortar banks is to open an account with an online bank, such as ING Direct, to manage your money. Most online banks will allow you to set up a checking account and give you an ATM/debit card for which to make purchases with. You can connect your online bank account with your hometown bank account and make transfers between the two. Short on cash? Ask your parents to deposit money into your hometown account which you can transfer to your cyber account or access directly with your ATM card.

Thanks to the internet, moving money between accounts is quick and easy. Processing delays can hold up your money, so consider multiple options for accessing your money including what we’ve mentioned herein.

Adv. — Do you need financial aid for this semester? Have you exhausted all other options? If you answered yes to both questions, then visit your Sallie Mae lender for more information or call them directly at 866-530-9523.

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Categories: Personal Advice