International Student Money Management

Managing your money and controlling your expenses while you are away from home can be challenging. Following are some helpful tips to better manage your money.

Banking Services

Because it is not wise or practical to carry large amounts of money with you or keep it in your home, it is best to deposit the money in a bank account. In Savannah, there are several banks that offer checking and savings account services, as well as other services such as wire transfers and dollar exchange, which are important for international students.

  • Checking Accounts – To live in the United States, one of the most important things is create a bank account. Banks offer different types of checking accounts. Some banks charge a fee for each check written, while others will not charge per check if the customer maintains a minimum balance. Select a bank who is FDIC Insured and whose checking account policies and services best meet your needs. You must pay to have personalized checks made, which have your name, address, and phone number on them. The bank sends a monthly statement of checks that you have written, so that you have a record of these checks. It is important to reconcile your check tracking and balance with that of the bank, be sure that your record of the amount remaining in the account coincides with the bank’s record.
  • Savings Accounts – Money which is not used for routine living expenses is normally kept in a savings account. Savings account earns relatively low interest rate. You may usually withdraw any amount from a regular savings account (also called a “passbook account”) whenever it is necessary.
  • Automatic Teller Machines (or ATM’S) – Most banks in Savannah have an automated teller service. This automatic teller is a computerized device through which bank customers can make deposits or withdrawals at any time of the day, any day of the week.

Most international students, like American students, live on a limited budget. It is important to manage money wisely in order to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. Because it may take some time for you to adjust to the value of the dollar and to estimate daily living expenses, you should be cautious about spending money. Here are some hints for managing your money.

  • Budget carefully-If you pay all bills at the beginning of the month, you will know how much remains for other expenses. Set aside the amount of money needed for rent, utilities, food, and other monthly expenses.
  • Keep accurate records- Keeping track of your expenditures by category (for example, books, recreation, and food) can pinpoint areas of heavy spending which might help you budget your money more wisely.
  • Transportation-An apartment close to campus may save hundreds of dollars annually on car expenses.
  • Credit- Although credit is a convenience for purchasing large items, it is easy to overextend yourself financially. Buy used items; weekend garage and yard sales are advertised in newspapers daily, and are good places to purchase appliances for reasonable prices.
  • Meals- Although dining out is pleasant and convenient, this can double your food bill.  Making bagged lunches at home for school and eating at home can save you money.
  • Take Advantage of Sales and Coupons- The Sunday newspaper is a great source for collecting coupons and seeing what is on sale at area stores.