Starting college gives you the opportunity to take the lead on making your own financial decisions. And whether you have a lot or a little of experience managing your finances, here are a few tips to make it easier to pay for the essentials:

Open a checking account

If you want to pay your bills or make purchases electronically, one option may be to open a checking account. This will allow you to withdraw or deposit funds, and if you use a debit card, you can make purchases with the card. It is helpful to understand the fees associated with any account before you sign up, as some institutions require a minimum monthly balance or they may offer fee waivers for some services depending on the type of account you have. Mobile banking, account alerts, and apps can be helpful tools to help you monitor your balance on the go, which may help you from spending more than the amount in your bank account, and avoiding overdraft fees.

Find ways to save

A savings account may help you accumulate savings and earn interest. While you may need a savings account to hold the money for your tuition or next semester’s textbooks, a savings account can also help you save towards other needs, including potential emergencies. You may also be able to schedule automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account to regularly boost these savings. That way, saving becomes a regular habit instead of an occasional activity.

Consider a credit card

While the requirements to qualify for a credit card can vary by lender, in many cases students must be at least the age of majority/emancipation in their state of residence, must be able to demonstrate the ability to individually repay their debt and be able to satisfy minimum income requirements in order to qualify for a credit card. In some cases, students who do not meet these criteria on their own may have to apply with a co-applicant who has the ability to repay the debt in order to qualify. A credit card in your own name may help you build a credit history that can serve you well when you need to get other credit products like a car loan. Missed or late payments can have a negative impact on your credit, so be sure to spend wisely and stay on top of your bills to avoid accumulating debt on your card.

Managing your money is usually easier said than done. By taking control of your finances and using that control to improve your financial stability and security, you will be able to learn how to make your money work for you.

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