Back to school finance tips for college students

Don’t panic yet, kids! There are still a few more weeks of summer left. But for incoming college freshmen, creating and managing your own finances is something that might be new to you.

Keystone Community Bank in Kalamazoo, Michigan posted six tips last summer with suggestions for incoming college students:

1. Open a checking account at a community bank in the town where the student will be going to school. Have the student put at least one other signer on the account, such as a parent (or both parents if applicable), who may have to deposit funds into the account or need access to the account in the future. Remember, banks cannot deal with someone efficiently if they’re not on the account.

2. Keep account information confidential and don’t share account numbers, passwords, PINs, etc.

3. Get a debit card to go with the checking account and get some minimal overdraft protection, just in case you or your student make an error in your account. Mistakes do happen.

4. Don’t get paper statements. Opt for electronic statements and get online banking, mobile banking and bill pay, which are free at many banks. Students tend to move frequently, so electronic statements avoid the needless hassle (and security risk) of paper statements getting in the wrong hands or not getting forwarded.

5. Use online or mobile banking to check the account daily. It just takes a couple of minutes and you can make sure the activity going through your account is all legitimate. Plus, you might be able to avoid an error that could result in overdraft charges, which are expensive.

6. Students: avoid credit card offers for the most part, or at least first talk about it with your parents, so you can make a good decision.

What other pieces of advice would you give young adults on how to handle their money?

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