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4 Things You Need to Handle Your Money in College

Financial independence also means responsibility.

Living on your own for the first time can be exhilarating! But there’s a lot to consider when getting ready to leave home. These four tips will help you enjoy your newfound independence.

1 - Have a Budget

A budget helps you know exactly how much money you have and how much you can spend. This is helpful when it comes time to pay your tuition bill, buy books, or even figure out whether you can afford a trip for Spring Break.

Balancing a budget and finances for the first time can be daunting, but knowing what to expect is half the battle. College has a lot of costs you might not think about besides decorating your new living space.

Here’s what your budget should plan for:

  • Tuition: Learn your options. Have you considered financial aid, scholarships, or student loans?
  • Housing: Do you have to pay for utilities (wifi, cable, etc.), or does your space include these costs?
  • Books: This is a huge school expense that gets overlooked. Books can cost an average of $153 per class.
  • Food: Plan meals at home to save money and remember to use that student discount when dining out.
  • Travel expenses: Schedule trips home for holidays or weekend travel with friends.

Planning for these costs will help you get through your school year with less worry about money so you can focus on those grades! You can get some extra help and advice from our budgeting expert partners, BALANCE.*

2 - Build Your Savings

Having a savings account is like giving yourself a safety net. This will help support all of your options when it comes to spending, so add to that savings account as often as you can!

If it feels like you have no extra money, start small. Can you give up spending $5 somewhere and put that money into a savings account instead?

Even easier, you can save automatically using our Round Up & Save checking account—extra pennies on your purchase go to your savings account automatically! Before you know it, you’ve got enough for a fun night out with friends.

3 - Have a Credit Card for Emergencies

How prepared are you for big expenses you can’t plan for? Whether it’s an expensive doctor bill, an unplanned visit home, or another costly textbook, do you have a way to pay?

Sometimes savings isn’t quite enough to cover unplanned emergencies. Establishing a credit card for emergencies can come in handy for the unexpected. And it can help you gain a credit score! Learn more about how to build good credit and why it’s so important.

If you haven’t ever borrowed money, you may need to have someone with an established credit history to be a joint owner on a credit card with you. That isn’t always the case though, and we are here to help answer any questions you have about starting a credit card for the first time.

4 - Use eServices to Access Your Money from Anywhere

Starting school in a new place doesn’t mean you have to change how you use your account. NWCU eServices allow you to access your money from anywhere!

Our eBanking allows you to track spending, send secured messages for account changes, and even send money out. With our mobile app, you can deposit checks right from your phone!

Our eStatements give you a safe and secure method of receiving your statements. You don’t have to worry about changing your address when you move into a new dorm or apartment because your statement will be securely delivered electronically!

Card Control is another awesome app you can use to help keep your cards safe. With this you can turn your cards “on” or “off” and it works with our mobile banking app. If you misplace your card, this is a great way to stop it from being used.

Mobile pays (like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™) are a convenient way to use your phone for payments. Once your card information is entered, a different number is assigned to it so your card number isn’t being stored or shared at stores or online.

*BALANCE is not owned or operated by NWCU. BALANCE is a nonprofit certified by HUD to provide comprehensive housing counseling service and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc.