For students, freshmen especially, college presents a variety of new and unique challenges, especially when it comes to handling personal finances. We’ve put together eight tips and suggestions that apply to students in 2019 that can help set them up for financial success, both in and after college.

Open a Savings Account

In theory, you’ve already done this. Whether when you were younger or the summer before you started your freshman year. 

If not, now’s the time. It’s never too early to start saving and you need somewhere to keep that money. No, you’re probably not making a lot of money while in college, but you should still be putting some of it away. 

Plus, once you have a savings account, you can easily transfer money to and from your checking account. You can also schedule automatic bill pay so you don’t miss rent or forget to pay the electric.

Start Saving a Little Each Month

As we mentioned, it’s important to be putting money away, even if you’re not making much. Even if it’s $5 a week or just $5 a month, it’s something. That money adds up over time.

Plus, you’re doing something that’s even more valuable than the money you’re putting away; developing a good habit that will carry you through the rest of your life, including into retirement. 

Even when times get tough financially, remember to pay your savings account first. You never know when that money is going to come in handy.

Start Budgeting

Most people don’t worry too much about budgeting when they live at home. The problem is, that means they’re not good at it when they get to college and are on their own.

But it can be really easy to start dropping dollars here and there until you find yourself struggling to pay bills. 

Make a budget. Know how much you need for things like rent, bills, food, transportation, and set that money aside so those expenses are covered.

Budgeting isn’t just about having a plan; it’s looking for the less expensive alternatives. Grab a Redbox DVD instead of going to the expensive movie theatre. Stay in for dinner instead of eating out every night. 

It may not always be the most “fun” option, but the stress brought on by worrying about money can have a negative effect on your health and schoolwork. Avoid the stress by planning ahead.

Utilize Personal Finance Apps

It’s never been easier to save and manage money. 

There are a number of personal mobile apps that can sink with your savings account and help you save and keep track of your finances. 

If you’re a RiverWind customer, we suggest you download the RiverWind Bank mobile app and Shazam Bolts.

For non-RiverWind customers, Mint and Saved Plus are great apps to consider.

Understand P2P Apps 

Speaking of apps, peer-to-peer (P2P) apps have become incredibly popular as ways to repay friends for things like tickets and dinner.

Apps like Venmo, Zelle, and Cash app are great and make sending money to people quick and easy.

That said, make sure you know exactly how to use it. Turn on the multi-factor authentication settings before ever sending a dollar. If you receive a payment, transfer the balance to your bank account and confirm that the deposit went through.

Be Careful with Credit

Whether you’re signing up for one of your own or have one from your parents, be careful with credit cards.

These are a huge responsibility that, if not used wisely, can have devastating effects on your financial situation moving forward.

That said, it’s important to start building credit now for when you apply for car and personal loans or a mortgage down the road.

Find the credit card that best suits your needs – not the one just giving away the coolest t-shirt. Then have a plan in place to make sure you’re paying it off regularly.

Falling behind on payments can wreck a credit score before you ever get started.

Be Careful Who You Give Info To

Speaking of credit cards and apps, don’t just start handing out your personal information to anyone.

Whether signing up for a credit card, paying for things online, or setting up an online account, be careful who you give banking and personal information to.

Make sure the website starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP. The “s” at the end signifies a secure connection.

Keep your social security card safe, at your parents’ house or in a safety deposit box at the bank.

Don’t give others your credit card or debit card to borrow.

Get a Job You can Handle

If you’re trying to juggle schoolwork and a social life, getting a job during college may sound impossible. 

But even a part-time job can have a major financial impact. Working 10 hours per week at $9 per hour over four years comes out $18,720 in gross income.

That can help not just pay bills, it can help take a chunk out of tuition and other costs that you’d otherwise be taking out student loans for.