As you prepare to start college this fall, to say you’ve got a lot on your plate would be a massive understatement. Course registration, housing, meal plans and much, much more. While these are all important issues, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask one critical question: How are your money management skills?

high school student holding notebookThere are few, if any, high schools in the U.S. offering courses that educate students about basic money management skills. As you can well imagine, we feel financial education is critical for people to acquire, regardless of their age. If you can spend some time this summer to learn how to better navigate finances, you’ll take some of the stress out of the college preparation process.

Here are five important financial tips for college-bound students:

Create a budget
For many students, creating a budget may seem like a daunting task. The basics of a budget are relatively simple – income (money you earn or receive) vs. expenses (money you owe). As you head to college, your income may include contributions from your parents or expected earnings from a summer job or an anticipated on- or off-campus job during the school year. Your expenses could include your housing (i.e.: off-campus apartment), clothes, food and transportation and entertainment costs.

Save, Save, Save!
If you haven’t already opened a bank account, now’s the time! Having access to your own account, whether it is through a debit card, mobile banking app, or some other means, will be very handy during your time at college. We strongly encourage you to get into the habit of saving money whenever possible, whether its from that great summer job, you have now or high school graduation gifts, it is important to become accustomed to saving. None of us can predict the future and having extra funds set aside for an emergency will give you a real sense of financial security.

The Importance of Establishing Good Credit
If you can establish your credit (there may be age restrictions or limitations involved), making your payments on time with a credit card or auto loan is crucial if you want to build a good credit history. Late payments can bring on late fees and may also negatively affect your credit score. If you can, pay off your balance on time each month. Think of it as a long-term strategy – your smart credit moves today will be beneficial in the future when you apply for a home mortgage or an auto loan, or any other situation that involves a review of your credit history. Some employers review your credit score before making a job offer. To learn more about credit reports and other credit-savvy tips, visit the FDIC website today!

Understanding Student Loans
For many students, loans are a necessary means to cover the costs of college. Student loans are funds available from the federal government or a private financial provider for you to use to paygroup of students against lockers for school-related expenses. As a loan, there is an expectation that you will repay your lender, over a set period of time. Some loans may, to ensure repayment, require you to have a parent/guardian cosign in order to be approved. It is important to learn as much as possible about the different loan options available to you before you “sign on the dotted line.” Speak with your college’s financial aid office or research credible student loan information sites online for more information about loan types, repayment guidelines, etc.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Going to college can be a source of great personal pride and, while we agree you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, we also want to be sure you know help is there when it comes to financial management. Whether it’s your parents, a trusted friend or mentor, it’s important to have someone to bounce ideas off and discuss financial concerns and strategies. If you need help understanding what bank account would work best for you as you head off to college, we invite you to visit your nearby Rhinebeck Bank branch and talk with our managers or Universal Bankers for more information.

Everyone here at Rhinebeck Bank wishes you much success as you begin your college experience and hope these tips serve you well now and in the future.


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