Special to The Truth
Smart money management is key to thriving in life, especially in college; yet many students often come to this realization late. There are steps you can take now to give yourself an advantage as you continue the 2023-24 school year.
Here are six key considerations for getting started:
- Set a realistic budget.
- Whether you have a part-time job, tap into financial aid, or have partial parental support during your college years, a budget will help you decide in advance how you should spend your money – and help discourage negative financial behaviors.
- Commit to a monthly savings goal.
- This is a habit that’s never too early to start! Setting a monthly savings goal during the college years – when student income varies, and tuition costs loom overhead – is a crucial best practice.
- Monitor spending.
- You may think you know where your money goes each month, but the truth is, many people grossly underestimate their spending. Busy students are no exception. It’s important to get in the habit of monitoring your bank accounts and credit cards for fraud, available balances, and spending to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Get financially engaged.
- Students can keep their finances in shape by tapping into mobile and online interactive tools and resources available to them. Wells Fargo customers, for example, can access predictive banking, an artificial intelligence feature that provides insights into spending patterns and delivers prompts to save.
- Know your credit score.
- Your credit score plays a critical role in your ability to get a loan or credit card, and yet many students don’t know their credit score.
- Request a free copy of your credit report from each of three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – once each year at AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
- If you notice any errors, report them.
- Commit to regular financial check-ins.
- Once you have a budget, savings goals, and general financial plan in order, set aside time for regular financial check-ins with advisors at your campus money management office or bank. Getting into the habit of doing this early and often will promote responsible spending and savings practices and lay the groundwork for future financial success.
In addition to the steps listed above, there are many resources available that can help students with money management and building greater financial security over time. To access these resources, visit wellsfargo.com/financial-health, or check out Our Money Matters, a free financial wellness hub supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation. To sign up, visit www.our-money-matters.org.
“One of the key things I tell young people is ‘practice makes permanent’ – practicing good financial habits gives you a solid foundation, even as your circumstances change,” said Ben-James Brown, a financial health program manager for the Wells Fargo Foundation.