Student Finances

You know that attending business school can be beneficial to your career, but at the same time, it can be expensive. Even with the benefits of financial aid, making ends meet may be difficult. Because of this, it’s important to make a budget and come up with a plan for managing your money.

First, you’ll need to be aware of how much money you have and how to best spend it. To do this, you need to develop money management skills.

Making a Budget
Set aside some time to establish a budget for yourself. This will help you prioritize how you spend your money. List expenses in order of importance, and then stick to your limits for each category. Some weeks you may have to forego pizza, or you may have to go without cable TV. Budgeting is tough, but it can save you some major headaches in the long run. If you can handle a part-time job while at school, by all means do so. The extra cash can make all the difference.

Student Banking
Many banks offer student checking or savings accounts, and you’ll get a lot of attention from such banks when you are a full-time student. They all want your business. So which bank should you choose?

  • First, you want a bank that has locations close to campus. You’ll need to make deposits and withdrawals on a regular basis, so you need convenient access to save you time. ATMs can be a valuable tool, so make sure that the bank has a liberal supply of those near places you frequent. However, it’s important to watch out for fees. Many ATMS charge $1.50 or more just to withdraw cash. Choose a bank that offers access to the largest number of free ATMs.
  • Also, find out whether the bank will offer you everything you need. You may want a checking account, savings account, credit card with low interest, or a student loan. Also, you probably want a bank with instant online account access. Finding a single bank that meets all your needs will save you time and may even save you money.
  • Check out any account fees the bank may charge, and compare interest rates to the other banks you are considering. Fees and interest add up quickly. If you have an investment account, you want to earn the most you can. On the other hand, if you are borrowing, you want a bank with low lending rates.

Credit Cards
It’s easy to get into trouble with credit cards. However, if you exercise self-discipline with a credit card and pay it off every month, you can reap many benefits by using one. For one thing, they help establish good credit for you. This will serve you well if you try to buy a car or even a house in the future.

When you apply for a credit card, shop and compare to find the lowest interest rate. A fixed rate is better than a variable one. Also, look carefully at the small print. What is the charge for cash advances or balance transfers, and what is the interest rate for them? How much is the fee for exceeding the credit limit, paying late, or underpaying?

Remember, making late payments can damage your credit score, so don’t take on a credit card expense that you can’t handle.

Really, handling money is a lot about paying attention and using common sense. The money skills you learn and practice now will serve you well for the rest of your life.

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