How can I prepare financially for transitions while in school?

What’s up next for you?  A big move? An internship? Graduation? Marriage?

Unexpected costs can often be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to manage.  The busier we get, the easier it is to miss something or develop a bad habit.  It could be a bad eating habit or it could be a bad spending habit.  Both increase stress, which is the last thing you’ll want during that time.  So, take some time now to prepare so you don’t experience even more stress during what should be an exciting time!

Create or maintain savings.  Savings is often that last thing we add to our budget, if at all, but even setting aside $5 a week yields $260 after 1 year!  It can be hard to predict how much money we need during times of transition, which is why creating a habit of saving can reduce the burden if not eliminate it.  However, to prepare for a transition you can consider all the costs you know you’ll experience and use that amount, or a little more, to help set a goal.  Divide your total goal by the amount of time you have until your transition. For example, if you need $1,000 by September 2017 you’ll need to save $91 a month, or $3 a day.

You can use a savings account to separate that money and you’ll earn some interest!  Take a look at our blog post Why get a savings account? for more information about why savings accounts can be beneficial for you.

It’s easy to make split second decisions that can derail your savings goals.  If you don’t have a budget, this is a great time to make one.  If you feel comfortable and confident to make it on your own—great!  Stop by the Student Money Management Center’s website for tips and tricks to create a solid budget.

Written by Carol Brobeck, University of Illinois USFSCO Student Money Management Center.

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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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/.

My account is in collections. What should I do?

When your account goes past due and is now in collections, be proactive! These tips can help you cope with and resolve accounts in collections.

OWN IT/ DON’T IGNORE IT. Contact your creditor and tell them what happened. You do not need to divulge personal information; just be truthful and give the basic facts. Most accounts receivable specialists, or “collectors,” will welcome this approach, have worked with many people in similar situations, and probably have options available.

HAVE A PLAN. The collectors don’t know what your resources are, so be prepared to offer some alternatives. Can you pay interest only for a few months or make a partial payment on the past due balance? Ask your representative for advice and what they recommend during times of temporary financial distress.

FOLLOW THROUGH. Do what you have agreed. Do not hesitate to contact the company again if your plans or resources change. Stay in continuous contact until you are able to bring your account up to date.

Written by Mark Austin, Collection Manager, University Student Financial Services & Cashier Operations