Managing Your Money Through College

Prior to becoming a college student, I didn’t really do much of my own banking besides a deposit or withdrawal here or there. However, when I went to college, I knew that I was going to be on my own with managing my money. Going into freshman year, I was aware of the funds in both my checking and savings accounts, and I knew that it was now up to me to fully determine where my money would go. I realized that part of growing up and going to college is becoming a mature adult in many aspects—finances and banking being one of them. Of course my parents are still willing to offer me advice and help me out when needed, yet for the most part, how I handle my money is entirely up to me.

College comes with countless expenses. And on top of that, every college kid wants to have money to spend on fun things such as social activities, concerts, sporting events, going out to eat, new college attire to represent your school…the list goes on. What I realized early on is that I needed to pick and choose what I really wanted to do because I just did not have enough money to spend on every little thing that I wanted to do. I also knew that since I did not work during the school year—except for some hours over my breaks—I would have to make the money that I made in the summer last me the entire school year. This was definitely hard to realize because I always wanted to go to that restaurant with my friends or buy the $5 Starbucks drink, and I still struggle sometimes with knowing when I should go and when I should stay back and have a free night. Overall, it can be difficult for college students—and honestly everyone in general—to decide what to spend their money on, yet I did my best to figure out ways to manage my money in the best way that I could.

Freshman year I was not able to physically go to the banking locations due to not having a vehicle with me at school—and I didn’t have my parents with me at school to do my banking for me. This is when I had to explore my options and broaden my horizons. I enrolled in German American’s online banking service and downloaded the mobile app in the app store. Doing this made me significantly more independent and cognizant of what I was spending where. In doing this, I have found a few tools and strategies that have really been beneficial for me in my money spending habits. The main strategy that I use to manage my money in the best way possible is using the mobile app. The ability to deposit checks electronically is one that I have definitely gotten significant use out of. Not only is this an alternative, secure way to deposit checks, it is definitely a time-saver since it saves a trip to the physical location of the bank. Another reason that the mobile app is so great is because you can sign up to receive notifications once you reach a low balance (this came in handy when I slacked off on balancing my checkbook and needed a reminder I shouldn’t go out to dinner with friends)! I also use the ITM quite often, as it is located right on the edge of the IU campus.

This upcoming semester, I want to continue to improve on managing my money as I continue to approach adulthood. I will be working about 10-15 hours a week at German American in Bloomington and as a Teaching Assistant for a class, so I need to figure out how to wisely handle the paychecks that I’ll be getting for those jobs. To do so, I plan on using a tool that I have not used yet. Financeworks is an online budgeting tool that helps customers plan their finances in a very useful way, and I think that if I utilize this, I will be even more disciplined in spending my money. Also, I previously used a service similar to Popmoney, but I am now going to use Popmoney because it is directly connected to the bank and to my account as a service offered. Using Popmoney is very convenient to use to pay friends, especially since I do not normally keep cash on me but often need to pay friends for splitting meals, etc. Going into another school year, I am prepared to learn more about managing my finances—as I am halfway done with college and need to prepare to do so in the real world—and continue to get better at spending my money responsibly. I am so glad that I have been able to learn so much about taking care of my finances at an early age, and I am also very thankful that I have all the resources, such as online banking, the mobile app, and the ITM, to help assist me!

- Written By Elisabeth Ahlbrand, Attends Indiana University and a Part-Time Student Employee of German American

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