VP, Private Banking, Waterford Bank, N.A.
It’s that time of year again. Students are heading back to campus and for some this is their first time away from home. No matter how prepared they may think they are, campus life is sure to throw some educational and financial surprises their way.
Finance and Fraud Pitfalls
Obviously the bulk of college costs come from tuition, but factor in groceries, textbooks, transportation costs, etc. and you’re looking at thousands on top of those expected fees. If you have never been in charge of handling your day to day living expenses (thanks mom and dad!), a little preparation in the form of a budget or financial management tools on your phone can go a long way in helping to make sure you only have to worry about studying for your next exam – not how you’re going to afford dinner this week.
Additionally, you or your student should take precaution being in a new atmosphere and in many cases shared spaces with dozens, if not hundreds of other students. Living in a dorm where other students or strangers might easily access your room and belongings, certainly ups the need for vigilance. On top of that, research conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research found that it takes 18 to 24 year-olds nearly twice as long to detect fraud compared to other age groups, making them fraud victims for longer periods of time.
Tips for Heading Back
Before you or your students head back to campus consider these financial and security tips:
- Check with your bank to see what kinds of financial management tools they offer and sign up for them. Between online and mobile banking you can review your transactions, deposit checks, and even turn a lost or missing debit card off from your mobile device. You can see what mobile tools Waterford Bank, N.A. has to offer here.
- Consider getting a credit card with a small limit. Not only can it act as a backup card in case something goes wrong with your debit card, but it will also help you to start building credit – just make sure you manage it wisely.
- Don’t be tempted to sign up for a credit card or some other store card to get a free college gift/sweatshirt/t-shirt while on campus. You should always check the rates and legitimacy of the financial entity you’re giving your personal information to.
- Spending too much at the campus bookstore? Create a budget. You can find various samples on the internet or download budgeting apps that can help as well. These will help you track your spending so you can see at the end of the month where your money went and then make adjustments to stay within your budget.
- Find some kind of hiding place in your dorm or apartment where you can stash your wallet while you are in the shower or sleeping. You may trust your roommate(s), but how well do you know their friends who visit?
- Never leave your phone or laptop unattended and make sure both devices require a strong password or PIN to access them. You can also buy insurance on your laptop to soften the financial blow in the event it is stolen or you spill your favorite Starbucks brew on it.
- Finally think twice about using a debit or credit card at any merchant you find to be questionable. With fraudsters stealing card information from gas pumps to major retailers, consider getting cash at an ATM and use that as payment at a merchant location that gives you a negative gut reaction.
Hopefully, these tips can help you or your student build a strong foundation of financial responsibility. By developing good money and fraud mitigation skills now, you’re contributing to a happier campus experience now and a healthier financial future when you graduate.
About the Author
Christopher Macino is a Vice President of Private Banking at Waterford Bank, N.A. in Toledo, Ohio. Apart from being a strong advocate for financial education in the classroom, he has learned much seeing his own three children through college. If you’d like to connect with Chris on this topic or another banking matter, please call 419-720-3900.