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2020 Hawai‘i College Guide

(Sponsored) Your guide to navigating the admissions process, financial aid applications, preparing for college, building a network and more.


(page 4 of 17)

Figuring Out Your Finances

HawaiiUSA FCU offers advice on saving and spending in college.

By Shinae Lee



photo: courtesy of chaminade university


Finishing high school strong, packing, selecting classes—getting ready for college can be a daunting process. But even the most prepared can sometimes find themselves dealing with questions they never considered, especially when it comes to money matters. We asked the experts at HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union for advice on how to deal with a few of those situations.


Going Away for School: Is a Mainland Bank Account Needed?

Not necessarily. It depends on your personal and financial situation. A Mainland bank account can offer branch and ATM locations near your school; however, it may be more difficult to send and receive money from Hawai‘i. If you plan to come back to the Islands after college, opening a Hawai‘i bank account makes a lot of sense and can still be convenient. Students with a HawaiiUSA FCU account, for example, can use ATMs and branch locations at any credit union on the Mainland that’s part of the CO-OP Shared Branching and ATM Network, all without any additional fees. And, if your credit union or bank offers online and mobile banking, plus the ability to mobile-
deposit checks with your phone, that long-distance relationship has never been easier.


Should a Parent Be on the Account?

If your parents are looking to offer financial support or advice, a joint Hawai‘i bank account could be an easy way for them to deposit money while helping you stay accountable for your spending. If they’re not on it, set up account alerts to avoid overdraft, when you spend more than is in the account. Even the most responsible person sometimes forgets to make a deposit, so alerts will warn you when an account dips too low. Another bonus of the feature: It can also flag security issues.



photo: courtesy of hawai‘i pacific university


Debit or Credit: Which Card Do You Need?

Both types of cards let students easily purchase books, supplies and food without needing to withdraw cash. But which one you go with depends on your financial goals.


  • Want to build financial responsibility? Debit cards give you access to your checking account and ATMs. But debit cards also require responsible money management. Monitor statements to make sure you don’t spend more than you have (learn about overdraft fees) and report anything unfamiliar that could be identity theft, fraud or other scams.

  • Want to build credit history? When used responsibly credit cards can be a beneficial payment and credit building tool. If you plan to take out loans or rent in the future, a credit card can help you establish good credit history, as long as you pay bills on time and in full. Credit cards also have built-in fraud protection and many include rewards for purchases. With no existing credit, you can apply for a student credit card with your parent as a co-signer if you don’t have your own job, a secured credit card with a cash collateral, or become an authorized user on your parent’s card (though this doesn’t build as much credit).


Is College Too Early to Start Saving?

Chances are you’ll start school on a tight budget. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save. Saving is an essential component to building your financial wellness, and it’s never too early to start making wise choices with your money.


  • Talk with a financial expert to learn which account type or saving plan may be the best fit for you.

  • Keep track of what you spend money on and cut down on inessential purchases. Do you get Starbucks and buy lunch every day? Those purchases rack up, so consider meal prepping instead. This will let you save for emergencies and large purchases.

  • With all that goes on in college between classes, homework and organizations, it’s understandable that finances might not be your first priority. That’s where apps and alerts can help you stay on track. HawaiiUSA recommends finding a personal financial management tool that lets you set a budget—bonus if it also helps you track your credit in real time. You can enter purchases and paychecks and see in an instant where your money goes and when you’re over budget.


It’s never too early to start making wise choices with your money.


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