Most college students end up taking advantage of financial aid while in college because there are several different scholarships, grants, and loans available to students. The key is to get as many scholarships and grants (free money) as possible while taking out as few loans (money you have to pay back) as possible. Once the money arrives you’ll have to manage it well.
Open an Account at a Credit Union
The easiest way to manage your financial aid check is to deposit a portion into your checking account and a portion into a savings account at a financial institution. If you don’t have a checking account or a savings account at a financial institution this is the perfect time to open them. Find out which credit unions are available to you by visiting www.CoopNetwork.net and plugging in your zip code.
Of course you could choose to use a check-cashing place, but they are going to charge you to cash your check plus you’ll get a hunk of cash that can be lost. The other option would be to open an account at a traditional bank, but credit unions have the largest ATM system in America.
Create a Spending Plan
Now that you have your checking account at a credit union it’s important to figure out how much money you have and how you’re going to spend it. If you don’t write down a spending plan it will be harder to stick to it. Take a moment to jot down all of your upcoming expenses and then write down how much of your financial aid check you’re going to allocate to each expense during which month.
Execute Your Plan
Since you already know how much money you have coming in and what you want to spend it on, it’ll be easy to deposit the portion that you’ll need per month into your checking account and deposit the rest in your savings account; moving money once each month to cover that month’s costs. Keeping the money that you’re using during the month separate from the bulk of your money will help you not overspend. You don’t want to end up with more semester than cash.
The worst thing that can happen is that you end up partying all of your money away. You don’t want to spend all your money at the beginning of the semester and end up being short later on. Using a credit union to manage your money, creating a workable plan, and executing that plan is the best way to spend your financial aid money.
Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She has written three books on personal finance, contributes to multiple online media platforms, and is a foster care alumni. She's been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event or to find out more about her work, visit her at www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.
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