Creative ways to save money for college students

Fran Walker graduated in May 2014 with a double major in Finance and Accounting from Syracuse University. While attending Syracuse, she participated in the McNair Scholar’s Program, was a member of the elite Orange Value Fund, and was named a Frankel Scholar. Walker was the first ever business/finance columnist for the campus newspaper, the Daily Orange. When she is not looking for her dream financial analyst position, you can find her trying out new dishes in preparation for her role as a personal chef on Home Platter. ​

If you’re a new or current student, the best time to get a checking or savings account began when you said ‘I do’ to your college or university. Very often it’s easy to make excuses or procrastinate on setting up an account.
For some people, there are legitimate fears concerning fees or minimum balance requirements. Others have really busy schedules and find it hard to pick a time that coincides with the opening of a bank branch. Lastly, many social activists may feel uncomfortable leaving their money with a bank that may support causes with which they don’t agree. All in all, none of these reasons should stop you from setting up an account. To address these different problems, I’ve categorized them as money, time, and value concerns.
Money Concerns
One of the most painful parts of the student existence is being broke. Between tuition, fees, textbooks, and the occasional entertainment, money can go very quickly. Why would you want to pay someone to hold your money? It only makes sense for you to avoid the additional cost of an unnecessary service. Right? Wrong! It would make sense if this were true, but it is not.
Checking and savings accounts are vital in this modern era. They can give you a safe place to store your hard earned cash, offer an excellent way to keep a track of your spending, and provide information to a bank that could help you get lines of credit later on.
In terms of pricing, student accounts have some of the best rates around. By best rates, I mean free. Plenty of banks offer free checking and savings accounts. A good proportion of fees tend to get waived for 4-5 years while you’re in school. Sometimes, you can even get penalties waived. Of course, feel free to shop around. This especially goes to those who are in a major city or big college town. If you’re really patient, you may catch one of the specials were banks will pay you anywhere from $100 to $200 just for opening an account. This is because banks or financial institutions really want to make you a lifelong customer.

Time Concerns
You have classes, labs, office hours, recitations, student org meetings, work, studying, limited lunch breaks, commuting, etc. I get it. College students are very busy. When I was in high school, I was so sure I would have so much free time. After balancing a multitude of things, I found myself annoyed that banks weren’t open 24-7. What if I had a vital question at 2am? What if I only had more than 15 minutes of free time after 10pm?
Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions regarding setting up that first account. Many banks are open on the weekend albeit with reduced hours. There are major banks that allow you to create an account over the phone. Finally there is a plethora of online only banks where you can create an account whenever you wish. Once you’ve created an account, there are a growing number of branches that provide 24-7 phone service, you generally have access to all your information online, and there are mobile solutions where you can have a bank text you whenever one of your alerts gets triggered.
Value Concerns
The last major issue one may face is hard feelings about the big corporate machine. If you worry that a bank would take your money in the event of failure, fire, robbery, etc., know that the FDIC insures your cash up to $250,000. I know people who insist in hiding money under their mattresses. Don’t do this. But trust me, unless you have more than a quarter million in the bank, fear not catastrophic events.
Beyond the fear of banks taking money, you may dislike how they make money. There are a lot of things banks may do to make money. If you don’t like the fact that a bank supports or invests in mountain top removal, diamond minds, or oil, look into a credit union. Credit unions tend to be smaller, local, and less likely to have a bad rap sheet.
All in all it really comes down to research. So now that I’ve given you some solutions to the most common problems one may face when opening a new checking and savings account, what are you waiting for? You know that they are cheap, safe, convenient, and that you even have options regarding your moral inclinations. I told you earlier that the time begin when you became married to college. Is your clock on these great benefits still ticking away?

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