Managing Money in College, Part One: Opening a Checking Account
One of Your Most Rewarding Assignments
Everything you learn in college isn’t in the course catalog. Case in point: how to manage money. Whether the source of your money is a stipend, full scholarship, or part-time job, you need a way to track how much money you have today relative to how much money you’ll have tomorrow, next week, or next semester. When you’ve got your head down studying for an important assignment, you don’t need financial distractions.
Instead, you need a keen awareness of what you can afford in groceries, eating out, gas, clothes, entertainment, rent, and other expenses. When this is sorted out, you’ll be able to manage the financial side of your life and, as a matter of course, stay focused on the academic work at hand.
Managing your own finances is probably one of the most rewarding assignments of your academic career. And completing this assignment is just a matter of taking a few initial steps and keeping up with some persistent homework. You won’t be graded—but you’ll get to stick around for another semester or two or more.
Two Money Guidelines
Before going any further, take a moment or two to consider two money guidelines that will serve you well when spending, saving, and making financial decisions:
Number One: If you’re going to spend money, make a point of learning how to save money.
Number Two: When you’re making a purchase, ask yourself: do I want it or do I need it?
Of course, it’s perfectly all right to want what you need. In fact, it’s more the rule than the exception. And if you have stayed the course and saved money during the time you were spending it, you’ll be able to have what you want when you need it.
Step One: Opening a Checking Account
Okay. . . . One of the first steps in managing your money away from home and getting a handle on your expenses is to open a checking account. You’ll need checks to pay regular bills like car insurance, rent, and utilities. Choosing the right place to open up your account is your first consideration. Don’t make an arbitrary decision. There are several important things to consider . . .
What is the minimum deposit needed to open an account?
Is online banking available, and if so, is there a fee?
Is there a monthly fee for having an account?
What about an ATM card? Where are the ATM’s located?
At Alliance Credit Union, you can open a checking account with $25.00, and have free online banking with no monthly fee, and Alliance Credit Union’s ATM accessibility is amazing.
In cooperation with their network partners, Alliance allows you to access your money at 60,000 surcharge-free ATMs through affiliation with their network partners that include the Co-Op Network, MoneyPass ATMs, and Allpoint Network. These networks have thousands of surcharge-free ATMs in all 50 states as well as Mexico, Puerto Rico, UK, and Australia. ATMs are located in popular outlets such as Costco, Target, CVS pharmacy, 7-Eleven, and Kangaroo Express, just to name just a few.
To find your closest ATM use the online Locator or visit www.myacu.mobi on your phone or download a smart phone app. Whether you’re in your dorm room or on holiday somewhere in Australia, you can use your iPhone® or Android® phone to check your checking account balances, view your transaction history, and transfer funds between accounts. (See our next blog on how to supplement your checking account with an interest-earning savings account.)
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Having mobile access to your financial information is more than just convenient since it puts everything you need to know about your money within reach at all times. And the first step in managing your money is awareness of your financial situation, so put your best foot forward and open a checking account at Alliance Credit Union.