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MANAGING YOUR MONEY

Student Checking Account Tips

Your checking account is the hub of your financial life. If you take good care of it, you’ll avoid mistakes that could cost you a bundle.

Wise Things to Do with Your Checking Account

  • Always know your balance. Review your checking account balance regularly using your bank’s ATM, website or mobile app. Set up automatic text messages or email alerts to inform you if your balance drops below a certain level. Know that your Available Balance does not reflect pending checks written, scheduled bill payments, or check card purchases that the merchant has not processed. Always keep track to understand what your true balance is.
  • Double-check all transactions. Make a point of reviewing your transactions online every few days, including deposits, ATM withdrawals, recurring payments and check card transactions. If you notice a questionable check or charge amount, contact your bank to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
  • Keep track of paper checks you write or electronic payments you have scheduled. Checks don’t always get deposited right away, so keep a mental, written or online record of any checks that haven’t cleared or scheduled payments that haven’t completed. And until it shows up as “paid” on your transaction history, don’t forget to subtract these outstanding checks or payments from the Available Balance you see online.
  • Keep your PIN to yourself. The numbers and passwords you use to withdraw cash and make purchases are yours and yours alone. Revealing them to others is like handing over the controls to your checking account.

Unwise Things to Do with Your Checking Account

  • Don’t spend more than you have – ever. If you spend more money than you have in your account, your check card transactions may be declined; your check may be returned; and, you may be charged an overdraft or insufficient funds fee. A “bad check” is a check drawn on an account with insufficient funds to honor the check. Anyone who attempts to deposit a bad check from you – a landlord, for example – may also charge you a ‘returned-check’ fee in addition to the fee(s) your bank charges you. In short, spending more than you have is expensive, so if you find yourself in a hole…Stop digging!
  • Don’t write a check with a future date. This is called “post-dating,” and contrary to what some believe, the person you hand that check to can deposit it anytime, which could result in overdraft fees or other charges if you don’t have adequate funds in your account.
  • Don’t endorse a check until you’re ready to deposit it. When you deposit a check – at a bank branch or ATM or by remote deposit – you need to “endorse” the check by signing your name on the back. Never endorse a check until the moment of deposit. That way if it’s lost or stolen, no one else can cash it.

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