Preparing your finances for the second semester

Students eating lunch together

Alleviate money woes and set yourself up for second semester success. Use our list to set some goals.

With your first semester in the books, you likely have a better idea of your spending habits while on campus. Were you a saver or a bit of an over-spender? If it’s the latter, you’re not alone: The National Financial Wellness Study recently found that more than 70% of students are stressed about their finances. However, students at four-year universities are the least likely to follow a weekly or monthly budget.

The new semester provides an opportunity for a fresh start: It’s time to take back control of your finances. Use our list to set financial goals that will help you get — or keep — your finances in good shape for the new year.

Goal 1: Start tracking your spending

It’s impossible to manage about your spending if you don’t know where your money is going. Use My Spending Report to track your spending, budgeting, and savings, all in simple and straightforward charts.

Goal 2: Make the most of your meal plan

Did your report reveal that you’re spending way too much on chowing down? Thankfully, this is an easy fix! Cut down on the fast food or off-campus restaurants, and stick to the dining hall instead.

Goal 3: Lower your textbook costs

Buying all of your textbooks at the beginning of the semester can be a major expense. Cut down on the cost by purchasing gently used books. Often, used textbooks through online retailers will be cheaper than those in the campus bookstore. At the end of the semester, don’t forget to sell back your used books with companies like CampusBooks, Chegg, or BookScouter.

Goal 4: Take advantage of on-campus perks

Are you aware of all the perks that come from living on a college campus? From free fitness classes to private tutoring, the savings will really add up if you take advantage of all that your campus has to offer.

Goal 5: Save for today and tomorrow

It’s essential to have a minimum buffer amount in your bank account, often known as emergency savings. This “never-go-below” amount serves as an important mini emergency fund, so decide on a minimum amount you’re comfortable keeping and make it your goal to stick to it.

Goal 6: Cut down on clothing expenses

Do you find yourself buying a new outfit for every night out? Stop overspending on clothes by swapping with your pals, shopping at consignment stores, or using sites like Poshmark, Swap, or ThredUp to resell the items you no longer want.

Goal 7: Dial in on discounts

Many places offer discounts just for college students. From retailers to restaurants, you’re likely to save anywhere from 10 to 25% off when you show your valid student ID.

Goal 8: Start saving for any big upcoming expenses

Planning on a spring break getaway or trip abroad this summer? The time to start saving is now. Set aside a certain amount each month to go directly toward your future big-ticket items.

Goal 9: Always know where your bank account stands

The absolute worst way to spend your money? Unnecessary fees. Don’t lose your hard-earned cash to an overdraft fee or ATM charge. You’ll be able to avoid these and other fees by keeping a close eye on your accounts at all times and using your bank’s ATMs. Make it a habit to check your bank account at least once a week.

Goal 10: Work on staying debt-free

Understandably, if you had to take out loans to pay for college, staying 100% debt-free may not be possible. To set yourself up for future financial success, work to ensure your student loans are the only debts you incur while still in school. Don’t rack up large credit card bills or other debts.

Goal 11: Talk to a professional

If you have money questions or want ideas to help move your finances forward after graduation, have a one-on-one conversation with a Financial Health Banker. These pros can offer personalized support and proactive guidance. You can find your Financial Health Banker at 1-877-924-8692.

Check out Your Financial Health Toolkit, a list of resources designed to help provide personalized guidance.

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