For starters, no one should spend more than what’s in his or her bank account. Signing up for low-balance text alerts helps account holders avoid overdraft fees. Or, if bank customers opt out of overdraft coverage, their cards will likely be rejected if they try to make a purchase or ATM withdrawal and don’t have enough cash in their accounts to cover it. (However, in that case they could be hit with a nonsufficient funds fee, so customers should be sure to check their bank’s terms when opening an account.)
Alternatively, pennywise students can choose a bank that caps fees or doesn’t charge them at all. Liz Weston, NerdWallet columnist and author of “Your Credit Score,” recommends looking into an online-only bank, which can be less expensive and more forgiving than the brick-and-mortar branch on campus.
As for credit cards, Weston advises students to aim to keep charges to a minimum, even though it’s a slippery slope.
“Credit cards can be super convenient but you get one for emergencies, and then emergencies tend to be pizza on a Friday night,” she said.