Congratulations! You're at the college of your dreams and taking big next steps toward your future! Beginning college, in many ways, can feel like restarting your life. Maybe you're in a new city, with a new housing situation—and you’ll probably have more independence than ever before. As a recent college graduate, I know these experiences firsthand, and they are all very exciting. But if you’re anything like me, too much change at once can lead to stress.
Fortunately, when it comes to managing the financial aspects of this change, most banks offer convenient tools and digital solutions to make it easier.
The first thing I would recommend is establishing a budget. People often think of budgeting as pulling out a pen and paper, and figuring out that your budget prevents you from doing what it is you want to do. But in my experience, a well-constructed budget enables you to do more than you would’ve thought possible with your money.
A budget is simply telling your money what to do instead of allowing your money to tell you what to do.
My budget in college allowed me to decide that I wanted to spend more on food and less on textbooks. (College hack: you don’t have to buy your books at the on-campus bookstore – they are often the most expensive place to buy!) I would also recommend working with a trusted adult or mentor in your life to establish what is reasonable for your expenses. By budgeting less and searching for the best deal on my books, I had extra money to budget the important things in life…like tacos.
While creating a budget can be overwhelming, there are tools that can help. For example, within Old National’s online and mobile banking, we have a tool called Money Management. This particular tool monitors the deposits that come into your account as well as all the other activity on your account. It can give suggestions, based on your income, for how much to categorize for different expenses—including education, housing and entertainment—but the great part is that you can customize this budget and tell your money exactly what to do. You can say goodbye to the days of manually tracking where you spend your money, because this program keeps track of your purchases and shows how much you have left in the budget for the month without any extra work from you!
Another important aspect of managing your money as a college student is the ability to easily make transfers, either between your accounts or between financial institutions, within online banking. There were times where I asked my parents for help, and times when they offered to help me. We were able to complete these transactions without ever even having to call the bank or visit the banking center.
You could agree to have a joint account with your parents or make them an authorized signer, so when you need money they can transfer it into your account. If you want to keep your finances separate, or if your parent banks elsewhere, most banks offer external transfers in online banking as well. At Old National, we also offer Popmoney®, a way to send money using a person's phone number or email address. Just keep in mind it might take a couple of days to process and for money to be available in your account.
One final note about transferring money. I always encourage students to open both checking and savings accounts, and set up automatic transfers into the savings account to build an emergency fund. Often, you can even open these accounts completely online if you choose to! I will admit that during college my emergency fund was rather small and that my definition of an emergency has changed with time, but it saved me from incurring debt when unexpected expenses came up while I was in school.
Accessing your money
So, you have a budget, you received the money in your account, but how do you access your money? You can certainly use a local branch if one is nearby, but there are other options. For example, you can use a debit card anywhere credit cards are accepted as well as at ATMs. When you use your debit card, the money comes right out of your checking account. Plus, you can add your debit card to the digital wallet on your phone through platforms like Google Pay, Samsung Pay or Apple PayTM. Make sure to find a bank that offers you free ATM access, too. At Old National, we offer free access to over 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs worldwide and an online locator to help you find one.
These are just a few of the tools that are offered to simplify your finances and empower you to succeed. As you begin to take control of your finances with these tools while in college, you will be learning lifelong money management skills in addition to your studies.
Checking for busy students
ONB Student Checking gives you control of your money when and where it's convenient for you, with our highly-rated mobile app, banking centers and ATMs at or near 100+ college campuses, and more than 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs worldwide. Plus, you can open your account online.
Jack is a Registered Real-Life Finance Instructor and Commercial Relationship Manager, Jr. at Old National. A recent college graduate, Jack has more than five years of experience in banking. Partnering with local community agencies including schools and nonprofit organizations, he has taught financial education in over 200 settings. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Jump Start Coalition, promoting financial empowerment and education nationwide. Jack believes financial wellness through financial education should begin at a young age and is the key to future success.
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