Citizens Bank encourages parents to have “Personal Finance 101” conversations with new college students before they leave home for freshman year
By following eight simple money tips, students can occur during the first semester away from home
Providence, RI (August 20, 2012) - With many students this month heading off to college for the first time, Citizens Bank is offering suggestions to help students avoid some of the common missteps that can leave them short of money as they transition from home to college and begin to experience financial independence.
Following its most recent test of financial literacy among high school seniors, the non-profit Jump$tart Coalition reported that students achieved an average score of only 48 percent – the lowest score in 10 years of testing. The Jump$tart data found that college graduates surpassed the "passing grade" of 60 percent, but this progress was incremental through freshman, sophomore and junior years of college.1
"College is an exciting time of discovery that comes with new freedoms and responsibilities. Many students end up spending their money too quickly, only to end up short on cash – and sometimes in debt – at the end of their first semester," said Brendan Coughlin, President of Education Finance, RBS Citizens Financial Group. "We encourage students and families to have a discussion now about smart practices for managing their money at school."
Some colleges require incoming freshman to enroll in financial literacy courses, but parents can help new college students start the year right by sharing the following tips from Citizens Bank with their children before they leave for school.
Build a budget – When you go to college, you are responsible for the everyday expenses that may have been covered in your family's budget. To manage your money, an important first step is to create a realistic budget that will help you understand how much money you have and where your money goes. A budget will help you to understand how you can live within your means, not overspend or run out of money.
Make a list of expenses – To construct a realistic budget start by making a list of potential expenses. Besides estimating the basics such as text books and dormitory activities, a comprehensive list should include clothing and shoes, toiletries, haircuts, laundry and dry cleaning, cell phone and credit card bills, weekend entertainment, transportation and parking, snacks, meals not covered by your college meal plan and a general catch-all miscellaneous category.
Learn the features of your checking account – A checking account includes a wide range of features that provide both flexibility and convenience for making deposits and withdrawals, transferring money and reviewing transactions. Online and mobile banking allow you to manage your money any time and any place so you can transfer money, check balances, pay bills and set up alerts – even if it’s from the library at 2 o’clock in the morning!
Little things add up – One of the easiest ways to overspend is to lose track of how much you are spending. "Small" expenses such as weekend entertainment, snacks and impulse purchases can add up quickly, leaving you short of money for the things you need to buy. Understand the difference between what you want and what you need and use the register that comes with your checkbook to keep track of your withdrawals and deposits. This will help you manage your money and also avoid paying fees for an overdrawn account.
Set up direct deposit – If you have a job, be sure to have your pay electronically deposited into your checking account. Because there are no paychecks to be taken to the bank and your money is immediately available, direct deposit will save you time and simplify recordkeeping. You will need to provide your employer with your bank routing and checking account numbers, which is information you can easily obtain from your bank. Some employers may need additional information such as a voided check, so be sure to ask what information they need.
Establish automatic savings – Whether you are receiving a paycheck or simply watching your spending, it is always a good idea to set up automatic savings so you get into the habit of "paying yourself first". This will help you to set money aside for special occasions, purchases and unexpected events. The most successful savers start out small, increasing the amount over time.
Use credit responsibly – If you use a credit card, only charge what you can afford to pay off each month. A credit card is a great convenience, especially when making large purchases. But if you don’t pay off the full balance every month, you will incur finance charges that can add up.
Stretch your money – Your status as a student may qualify you for discounts at retailers, concerts, museums and more. Before making a purchase, ask if your student I.D. qualifies you for a discount.
There is growing awareness that consumers of all ages seek information that that can help them to understand and manage their money. Numerous resources are available online including:
- MoneyHelp®, Citizens Bank's easy-to-use online guide to smart solutions, interactive tools and other resources that can help consumers gain control of their finances. MoneyHelp can be used to develop a household budget, understand credit, plan for life's most important events and more.
- MyMoney, the U.S. government's website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education.
- Federal Reserve, which offers numerous guides and tips on personal finance.
Students and parents interested in learning more about how to manage their money are invited to come in to their local Citizens Bank branch for a discussion about their specific financial goals.
In addition to helping students and families save, Citizens Bank offers the TruFit Student Loan®, a private student loan available to college students throughout the 48 contiguous states. Eligible students must be enrolled at least half-time in a four-year undergraduate or graduate program. The bank’s Education Finance experts work with students to make sure they are aware of all their financing options before making a decision about a private college loan. The bank verifies loan amounts with colleges to help ensure that students only borrow what they need to fund their education, including indirect costs such as books and personal expenses. For more information about Citizens Bank and to see other tools that can help you manage your finances, visit citizensbank.com or call the bank's 24/7 customer service line at 1-800-922-9999.
About Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating its seven-state branch network in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. It has 50 branches and 126 ATMs in Connecticut. It has 25 branches and 59 ATMs in Delaware. It has 254 branches and 758 ATMs in Massachusetts. It has 80 branches and 202 ATMs in New Hampshire. It has 159 branches and 386 ATMs in New York. It has 83 branches and 192 ATMs in Rhode Island. It has 21 branches and 40 ATMs in Vermont.
RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $129 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has more than 1,400 branches, approximately 3,700 ATMs and approximately 18,940 colleagues. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. RBSCFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. RBSCFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com.