Hello International Students, here are some tips and recommendations on ways that you can save as you being the new school year.
Whether you are a new International Student or a returning International Student these tips will help you save money and start you on the right track as you begin or continue your studies here in the United States.
1) Books – I remember my very first semester of college Spring 2009 spending close to $500 on books and receiving about $40 back at the end of the semester during book buy back. From that semester on, I’ve either rented or bought my books online. Most campus bookstores or inside your school account will have the information on the books that you need for your courses. From that you can get the ISBN number of the book and order or rent your books online.
2) Bank Account – Bank Accounts are essential! It makes life more convenient when dealing with money. I would open a bank account ASAP. My first semester of college I spent so much money in exchange fees when receiving money from home. Having a bank account makes it easier to manage money. Most banks offer a college checking and savings account. These accounts are usually free. When you open up a bank account you will receive most likely an ATM Visa Debit Card and a Check Book which becomes convenient for purchases.
Recommendation: I have been using Well Fargo since 2009 and their service has been excellent! I recommend Wells Fargo or any major bank such as Bank of America or Chase Bank. Find out which bank in local in your city and open up a college checking and savings account.
3) Jobs – Jobs can be very helpful while studying here in the United States. Once you are offered a job on campus you can obtain a Social Security Card which you can use to start building credit. As F1 Visa Students we are only authorized to work On Campus for no more than 20 hours per week.
Recommendation: I recommend visiting the Human Resources Department on your campus to find out job openings for students. Other great places to look for jobs are the Campus Bookstore, Gift Shop, Library or Cafeteria.
4) Cell Phones – Cell phone plans can become very expensive. As a new International Student who most likely would not have established credit as yet it might be difficult to get a cell phone plan with the major carriers like Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile. While there are a lot of prepaid phones offered by those carries, those can be a bit pricy as well. But I have no fair I have the perfect recommendation on a cell phone plan that will keep you up to date with technology and that will give you everything you need in a cell phone plan for under $50
Recommendation: Straight Talk, Straight Talk is a Cell Phone Provider that works nationwide. They offer an Unlimited Nationwide Cell Phone Plan, that’s Text, Talk & Data for only $45 per month. $46.52 to be exact, after taxes ;-). They also offer an Unlimited International Plan for $60 per month for calling home. There are no obligations or commitment with Straight Talk, you can refill your account every 30 days by purchasing a refill card for Wal-Mart or through your online account. Another great thing about Straight Talk is you can use any Unlocked Phone you would like! Whether you bought a cell phone from home purchased it from Amazon or EBay, all you have to do is purchase a Sim Card or a Micro Sim Card depending on your phone and have the phone activated. I’ve been using Straight Talk for more than a year now and highly recommend it! www.straighttalk.com
5) Credit – Credit is everything in America! Whether you want to get an apartment, purchase a car, get a phone plan or take out a loan, you need credit! I think that International Advisors should start giving workshops on credit because it is so important living in the states. I recommend building credit right away and maintaining it. I know when I first started working and got my social security card I was sent pre-approved credit card offers in the mail. A credit card is a great first step to building credit. But be sure to maintain it! That means paying your bill on time and trying not to utilize more than 30% of your limit. Once you obtain a credit card they report to the three major credit beauraus. Your credit is linked to your social security number. My recommendation for building credit is starting out with a secured card. With a secured card you send a security deposit to the credit card company and they will mail you a credit card. Your credit limit would be the amount of the security deposit. Credit Cards come in handy when it comes to renting a car, a hotel or if you don’t want to use up all of your cash.
Recommendation: I recommend First Progress www.firstprogress.com, I’ve been using their service for about a month now and my credit score has already went up by 74 points.
6) Credit Monitoring – Knowing and monitoring your credit can be very helpful with building credit. A good credit score starts in the late 600s to 700+ good credit is the equivalent to having a black card!
Recommendation: I recommend Credit Karma www.creditkarma.com. You can monitor and check your credit daily using this service. It’s free and very easy to use.
I hope that all of these recommendations are helpful to you. I wish you all the best as you being the 2014/2015 School Year!
New Mexico Highlands University Alumni
ISV Guest Blogger