How can I get help building a budget or spending plan?

Creating a budget and sticking to it is difficult for a lot of people, but there are so many tools you can use to both create a plan and track your spending that there’s no reason not to do it! Like with any other life skill, you just have to make it work with your own lifestyle, values and preferences.

Budget & Spending Plan Tools: Both the Student Money Management Center and University of Illinois Extension’s Financial Wellness for College Students have budgeting and expense-tracking resources for you to use.

Let us know if you have other questions about the best tools to use to build your budget and track expenses! You can even request an individual financial coaching session with the Student Money Management Center by completing this form or with the financial Wellness for College Students peer educators by emailing financial.wellnessuie@gmail.com to set up an appointment.

Be in the know. Stay updated on important events and activities at the University of Illinois to help build your financial future by subscribing to one of our e-newsletters. Each e-newsletter caters to your unique needs! Subscribe below:

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To learn even more about how to manage your finances while in college, including what to look for in a financial institution, you can watch another recorded webinar, Cash at College: Spending, Saving & Student Loans.

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What is a good tool to help manage my debt?

According to a 2012 Sallie Mae report, “How America Pays”, 35% of students borrowed education loans to pay for college and, although credit card ownership has decreased recently, 35% of undergraduates have a credit card.

Credit is an important financial tool that students need to learn how to manage wisely. Learn more about how credit card debt can affect you now, as well as in the future by watching the recorded webinar, “Staying on Good Terms: Credit & Debt“.

Credit Management Tool: Use powerpay.org to help you manage your credit, pay down debt and plan your spending. This website was created by Utah State University Extension and WebAIM.org.

To learn even more about how to manage your finances while in college, including what to look for in a financial institution, you can watch another recorded webinar, Cash at College: Spending, Saving & Student Loans.

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Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: What are the pros and cons of a credit card and debit card? What are the differences between them?

A credit card is a small plastic card issued by a bank, credit union, or other financial company which allows you to purchase goods or services on credit. The financial company usually establishes a credit limit that has the potential to increase or decrease depending on your spending habits and if you make payments on time. On a positive side, credit cards have a few advantages. In general, a credit card can be looked at as a 30-day, interest-free loan, as long as your monthly bills are paid off in full. Your credit card will allow you to begin to establish a credit history.

On the other hand, credit cards usually have high interest rates that will go into effect if you don’t pay a bill on time or don’t pay a bill at all. The interest amount accumulates over time, depending on how long it takes you to pay off the debt. Credit cards also are very vulnerable to fraud. It is important to monitor your purchase history, usually through a monthly paper or electronic statement. Monitoring helps you notice fraudulent activity. Lastly, if payments aren’t submitted on time, your credit history will be negatively affected, hurting your chances for future loans and other financial options to be issued to you.

A debit card is also a small plastic card that allows the holder to purchase goods and services, but it is usually issued by a bank or credit union. These cards are usually linked to a savings or checking account, where you will deposit funds for usage on the card.

Debit cards have several advantages that may be appealing to you! When you use a debit card, you are only allowed to spend the amount of cash that is available in your checking or savings account. (If have overdraft protection and you spend more, there may be immediate fees.) With this in mind, there is usually no need to carry cash as this is an equivalent. There are no interest rates ever associated with debit cards, due to the fact that you are spending your own money as opposed to taking a loan out with credit cards. Debit cards also have no effect on your credit history as there is no credit being used. Taking this into account, anyone who has a checking or savings account is able to sign up for a debit card, making it a viable option to consumers.

On the other hand, debit cards come with possible overdraft fees, which are put into effect if you spend more than what is in your checking or savings account associated with your debit card. If you choose a debit card, you are also required to remember a PIN number to make any transactions with the card. This PIN number must be kept confidential at all times!

Surely, several differences exist between credit and debit cards. If you have a credit card, monthly bills can be accessed electronically, or you can choose to have them mailed to you. On the other hand, debit cards have no monthly statements, which means you must keep track of your own expenses via your checking or savings account. For credit cards, there is a liability limit of $50. More often than not, you are not held liable for fraudulent activity. Furthermore, there is a lot less fraud protection with debit cards. There is a liability limit of up to $50 if you report in within two days of noticing the fraud. But your liability increases to more — or even everything in your account — depending on how quickly the fraudulent activity is reported.

 

Written by Joey Gangichiodo, Financial Wellness Peer Educator, December 2014. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.

Where is the best place to bank on campus?

We can’t tell you where to bank, but we can help you narrow down your options by knowing what to look for in a financial institution (bank or credit union).

When choosing a financial institution, you’ll want to think about the following things:

  • Convenience
  • Services
  • Security
  • Costs

Shop Around: For a list of questions to ask when shopping for a new financial institution, check out University of Illinois Extension Financial Wellness for College Students’ website.

You can check out the map below for brick & mortar locations of different financial institutions near the three main University of Illinois campuses, and you can watch our recorded webinar, Establishing Your Roots: Getting Started with Financial Services, if you’d like to learn more about choosing the right financial products and services for your needs.

To learn even more about how to manage your finances while in college, including what to look for in a financial institution, you can watch another recorded webinar, Cash at College: Spending, Saving & Student Loans.

Cash at College: Spending, Saving & Student Loans (Recorded Webinar)

Cash at College is a must-see webinar for all students headed to college. University of Illinois USFSCO’s Student Money Management Center and University of Illinois Extension have teamed up to offer this educational and engaging webinar for all University of Illinois students. This free webinar features lessons on:

  • how to effectively budget your money while in college
  • the basics of banking
  • options for paying your college tuition
  • understanding credit
  • and how to make the most of your college education

Cash at College offers an important guide to managing your finances, so don’t miss out! Watch it below or on YouTube now!

Test your knowledge. Take the quiz!

Spending badgeThis is a Spending Badge eligible program, so make sure to take the quiz after watching to get credit!

By participating in three Spending Badge eligible events, you could earn a digital badge to enhance your online professional portfolio. Learn more about the Financial Literacy Badges Program by visiting: badges.illinois.edu/usfsco/.