It’s important to take time to let yourself relax and reset over winter break, whether that means catching up with friends, spending time with family, or reading the book that’s been patiently waiting on your dresser since the summer. Winter break is also a great time to take advantage of having more time to prepare for your future, whether that’s by getting a jump-start on reading for the spring semester or applying for internships.
Another aspect of your future you can prepare for over winter break is building a strong financial foundation. We’ve compiled a list of three money moves for college students to make before heading back to campus for the spring semester.
Your credit will impact a lot of things in life, from auto loan approvals and job offers to insurance rates and your ability to get your own phone plan. All that to say, other people will be checking your credit, and you should, too.
One easy way to check your credit is by requesting your free credit reports each year from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. While other sites may advertise the same service, this site is the only one mandated by the federal government to provide you with your credit report for free each year. Typically, you’re entitled to one free report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus during a 12-month period.
Once you pull your credit report, check to make sure everything is accurate and that there are no fraudulent accounts that have been opened in your name.
You’re likely very busy during the semester between going to classes, participating in extracurriculars, and possibly working on or off campus. So, while the window to apply for financial aid for the following school year may seem wide, deadlines can easily sneak up while you’re busy with other things.
Take time over winter break to complete your financial aid paperwork for the following year, if you haven’t already. Research any additional scholarship opportunities, whether from your school or an individual organization. And if you’re preparing to graduate, get yourself organized now to make sure you’re not surprised when it comes time to start repaying any students loans.
If you have accounts in your own name, take time to review them and make sure they’re the best fit for you. Determine whether you’re paying any unnecessary fess (like monthly maintenance fees or hefty ATM withdrawal fees) and if your account will stay the same after you graduate (some banks offer low-cost accounts while you’re in college, but tack on fees once you graduate.)
If you don’t have an account yet or decide you may need to find one that’s a better fit, consider a PSECU checking account. It’s free (no monthly, maintenance, or minimum balance fees!), we have a large network of surcharge-free ATMs, and we even offer debit card rewards on eligible purchases. Plus, you can keep the same account after you graduate, eliminating the hassle of switching accounts while preparing to graduate.
Taking some time out of your break to make these money moves will help you start the new semester feeling confident about your finances.
To continue building on the progress you make over break, check out our free resources to help you make your wallet work for you.