College students living away from home for the first time may find the first lesson they learn is how to manage money on their own. Parents can help prepare their son or daughter with guidelines to help them make smart financial decisions during the first year of college.
“College is a place where young people begin to mature and take care of themselves, and managing finances is a large part of that responsibility,” said Jeff Buonforte, executive vice president and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM of Lakeland Bank. “But between studying, socializing, and doing laundry for the first time, it’s easy to lose sight of balancing their finances.”
Lakeland Bank financial consultants offer the following tips for college students.
Easy Ways to Save Money and Spend Wisely
- Make a budget. List all estimated expenses, including miscellaneous spending money and review it weekly to make sure you stay on track.
- Buy used books for your classes; check out websites such as www.abebooks.com, www.addall.com, www.alibris.com, www.ecampus.com, www.half.com and www.textbooksnow.com. Remember to sell last semester’s textbooks online or take them back to the school bookstore.
- If you’re on the college meal plan, use it. If you’re not, make the grocery store a regular destination for low-cost, nutritious meals. Shop with coupons and buy store brands rather than advertised brands. Avoid eating out as much as possible.
- Use store loyalty cards whenever possible to save additional money.
- Shop sales or visit the local Salvation Army or Goodwill for clothing, furniture and other items.
- Use Internet phone services such as Vonage or Skype to save on phone bills.
- Consider a part-time campus job to help with expenses.
Managing Your First Credit Card
Credit card companies often approach college students on campus. Students are given the opportunity to start building their credit history with their parents co-signing the contract.
“If you decide to authorize a credit card for your college student,” noted Buonforte, “talk about the consequences of accruing credit card debt and how to use a credit card wisely.”
He offers these tips:
- Choose a card with a low interest rate and no annual fee.
- Read the credit card contract carefully. Introductory offers will expire. Know exactly what the card requires after that period.
- Use the card minimally and do not spend more than you can easily pay off each statement.
- Pay the credit card bill completely each month. Avoid carrying a monthly balance.
- Watch out for due date changes. Credit cards sometimes change due dates with little notice, causing you to pay late charges.
About Lakeland Bank
Lakeland Bancorp, the holding company for Lakeland Bank, has an asset base of approximately $2.8 billion and 47 offices spanning six northern New Jersey counties: Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren. Lakeland Bank offers an extensive array of consumer and commercial products and services, including online banking, localized commercial lending teams and 24-hour-or-less turnaround on consumer loan applications. For more information about the full line of products and services, visit its website at LakelandBank.com.
Disclosure: Securities are offered through Essex National Securities, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC. Insurance products are offered through Essex National Insurance Agency, Inc. Neither is affiliated with Lakeland Bank. Products are not guaranteed by the bank, not FDIC insured, not a deposit, not insured by any federal government agency and may lose value including loss of principal.