The secret to stretching your dollars as a college student? Extend a little extra effort every day to figure out if you can get something for less money. When you’re starting out your campus life, getting into a money-wise mindset early will get you on the right financial path. And it will be much easier to balance your brand-new checking account.

Work those college perks

Your student ID is a huge source of savings and discounts. Before you shop or dine out, see if you can get a percentage off just by showing your student ID. Keep a list of the big brands and small businesses that serve students:

  • Retail
  • Restaurants
  • Subscriptions
  • Entertainment

Take full advantage of campus life

Keep your eyes open for free campus events. At no other time in your life will you have so much access to free and low-cost entertainment: plays, sporting events, lectures, gallery exhibits, all within walking distance of home. Save a few bucks on entertainment and take full advantage. You’re already funding some of these events with student fees on your tuition statement. Don’t sit these out.

Test out of classes

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) can save you a bundle on intro-level classes. These are standardized tests from the College Board, giving you an opportunity to prove your knowledge. Simply take a 90-minute exam and if you reach the minimum score, you’ll earn college credit for a fraction of the cost. Minnesota public universities, colleges and community colleges accept CLEP for credit. Sure, some of the 36 CLEP test subjects seem tailor-made for nontraditional students. But if you can find one or two exams that align with your academic strengths, whether it’s a language, literature or mathematics, you can free up time and money for the courses you actually need.

Request practical gifts

Instead of spending everything on necessities, make a wish list of things you can use around the dorm or your first apartment. When holiday and birthday gift giving rolls around, you can get high-quality items for free from someone who cares.

Pool meals with roomies and friends

Most money-saving blogs will tell you to eat more meals at home. And we’re on board with that. But you can take it a step further by pooling mealtimes with friends and roommates where each person takes turns shopping for groceries. Buying in bulk saves money and simplifies your routine. With the meal planning component, you’ll never have to waste time worrying about what to make for dinner! Not only that, but sharing cooking duties and mealtimes is a great way to build bonds.

Don’t be dinged by overdraft fees

It happens to most of us at least once: You bought concert tickets forgetting that your automatic car payment is due. A simple oversight or miscalculation can get you in deep with a negative account balance compounded by overdraft fees. Yes, it helps to keep a budget and monitor your balance. But you’ll need a backup plan, particularly if you don’t have the credit history for overdraft protection.

  • Turn off overdraft coverage: Minnwest Bank checking accounts come with a default setting that declines debit card transactions when the account has insufficient funds. This doesn’t apply to automatic payments, but keeping overdraft coverage set to “off” can stop the cascade of fees and transactions.
  • Savings sweep: If you have savings, set up an automatic transfer that’s triggered by a low balance.

Choose the bank that puts YOU first

When opening your first checking and savings account, it pays to be choosy with your bank. Minnwest Bank offers the same free checking features you’d want from a big-name bank or online lender. But as a community bank, our emphasis on service and security gives you better value in the long run.

Check out: Ready for college? Here's the 101 on student-friendly checking from Minnwest Bank

  • We have great online and mobile services so you can check your spending, make payments and transfer funds on the go, while getting convenient alerts to keep spending on target.
  • We care enough to take account security seriously. We take time to alert you when something doesn’t look right.
  • With our convenient branch locations throughout Minnesota, you’ll have access to friendly, personalized service whenever you need it!

Check it out! Minnwest Digital Checking is FREE and perfect for the college lifestyle.

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