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Student Finances 101: Learn how to manage your money in college.

Between balancing your bills, prepping for exams and feeding yourself three square meals a day, your checking account has likely seen better days. For college students, managing finances often means stretching every single penny you have, and sometimes even the ones you don’t.

Managing your student finances doesn’t have to feel like a full-time job. In this crash course, you’ll learn to do more with the money you already have, that way you can master your money with honors.

Create a budget

Start by calculating your income. Include your income from work-study gigs, financial aid and the check mom sends every month. Next, go over your spending for the past month or two. How much were your bills? What did all those late-night pizza deliveries add up to? Determine what you spent on necessities (utilities, rent, etc.) versus lifestyle (movies, brunch, etc.). This should give you a pretty good idea of where your money goes each month.

Now it’s time to plan where your money should go, moving forward.

Begin with the absolute non-negotiables, like living expenses, insurance and other must-pay bills. With what’s leftover, give yourself realistic spending buckets for groceries, transportation and school supplies. You can even set up a budget just for your pizza habit, so you can indulge those carb cravings without breaking the bank.

Finally, stick to your budget. It’s the most crucial step budgeting success. Keep yourself on track by logging each purchase you make. That way you always know how much is left in each bucket.

Take control of your finances as a college student.

Establish credit with the right student credit card

Applying for a credit card may sound like the last piece of advice you should give a young college student. But, hear us out. Building your credit score early can save you money in the long run. That’s because you’ll be eligible for lower interest rates and better lender offers sooner.

Start by finding the best credit card you qualify for and apply. Once you’re approved, your card will arrive in the mail. When it does, set your new card up as the preferred payment method for a small monthly subscription, like your music streaming account, and making you sure you pay off the entire balance every month – not just the minimum payment. Then comes the second most important part: Tucking your card away in a safe place that’s out of sight, and not using it for anything else. Lastly, and most importantly, set up monthly auto pay from your checking account. This ensures you won’t miss any payments. That’s it! You’ll be building your credit each month without even trying, or taking any debt-incurring risks.

Make the most of student discounts and special offers

As a student, your college ID can help you stretch that monthly budget even further. It’s your ticket to discounts at a variety of local spots. And we’re not talking about just froyo and movie matinees. From car insurance to electronics, asking if student discounts are offered can help bulk up your checking account balance before you know it.

Speaking of checking accounts, this is another area where you could be saving. FAIRWINDS’ Student Checking Account lets you say goodbye to monthly fees, so you can put that money right back in your pocket. With free ATM transactions at FAIRWINDS or Publix Presto! ATMs, you can count on always being able to access your money when and where you need it. Throw in free mobile banking, mobile check deposits, bill pay and even CashBack Purchase Rewards and you’re looking at one of the best everyday deals for students.

Ready to manage your money like a pro? Stop by your closest branch to open your FAIRWINDS Student Checking Account and learn about all of our offers for college students.

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