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A Crash Course in College Commerce

When I was younger, the Little League® World Series was always played the week before school started, and for me it signaled the official end of summer. Many students dread the beginning of another academic year, but for a college freshman it can be downright overwhelming.

Believe it or not, choosing the right financial institution is an important step in the process. Chances are when you’re away from home, you’ll need to cash or deposit a check, withdraw money or use a debit card. So how do you get started?

When I was growing up, the end of a cozy, relaxing summer and its transition into a stressful, hectic school year was a nightmare. The jump from high school to college was even worse. Books tripled in costs. Essential supplies went from cheap Ninja Turtle® folders to new room necessities. The unending flow from the bank of M.O.M. was corked at a time most inconvenient.

Suddenly, money mattered.

Moving to a new area created additional obstacles. New surroundings meant embracing your inner Christopher Columbus: exploring new shops, restaurants, potential job opportunities, hidden gems and places to avoid altogether.

One word that quickly becomes ensconced in a student’s vocabulary is free, so it’s important to find a bank that meets those needs. For example, as a courtesy to students, Susquehanna offers a checking account that requires no minimum balance. In addition, there is no cost to order a Visa® Check Card, which allows students to make future purchases and withdraw money at the ATM. A quick search at any institution’s Web site will give you a glimpse of the services they offer and help you decide what’s best for you.

Of course, you will inevitably have to succumb to trading dollars for knowledge. College textbooks can’t be avoided; however, before buying from the university’s bookstore, Web sites such as amazon.com and half.com may have lower prices, even when you factor in shipping costs. The beginning of August is also the time to search for discounts. Trying to beat the competition, retail stores will offer reduced prices for school supplies.

Setting aside money in advance is always the best practice. It is also another way banks can help. Club accounts can be set up with a maturity date a year in advance. With a direct deposit, even placing $5.00 from each paycheck into a club account will add up to big savings and peace of mind.

A little preparation goes a long way. So enjoy the summer. Enjoy the Little League World Series. And for those of you just starting college – enjoy the next four years!

Little League is a registered trademark of Little League Baseball, Inc., and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a registered trademark of Viacom International, Inc.

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Posted in Banking Basics, Financial Education.

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