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College can be one of the most exciting times of your life — a place to grow, learn, meet lifelong friends and jumpstart your career. Learn how to get prepared for college expenses.
article preview image Thinking of college? Start saving now.

College is the most exciting times of your life — a place to grow, learn, meet lifelong friends and jumpstart your career. There’s no question, however, that college is expensive. If you’re a current high school junior or senior in the process of applying to colleges, here’s how to get prepared.

Financial Aid

Financial aid in the form of grants, federal loans, tax credits and deductions can help pay for college. You can fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to find out if you qualify for financial aid.

According to data from the College Board, undergraduate students received an average of $14,940 in financial aid in 2019-20. However, the cost of going to college keeps rising. The average budget for the 2020-21 school year was estimated at $26,820 for a public four-year in-state college or university and $54,880 for a private nonprofit four-year college. This includes tuition, fees, room and board.

Here are some tips to help you plan for and manage college costs:

  • Talk with your parents. Find out how much they are able to contribute.
  • Meet with school counselors. They may be able to help you search for scholarships and grants. They can also steer you toward schools that offer the best financial aid packages.
  • Consider community college. If you complete required courses at a community college, you may be able to transfer to a four-year school later. Be sure to find out whether your targeted school will accept the credits. You can also take introductory courses at a community college and transfer over the credit to the university you’re attending.
  • Get a job. Many schools offer work-study programs. You could find a job on your own, but be realistic about balancing work while keeping up with your studies.

Save, save, save

A college education is an investment in your future. Save as much as you can, from the money you receive for your birthday, graduation or part-time jobs, in your Dinero savings account at Advancial. Small changes you make now can pay off in greater job satisfaction and higher earnings later.

Source: The College Board

While you may know a lot about test scores, how much do you know about credit scores? One day, these scores will have an important influence over financial matters in your life, so it pays…

article preview image What’s a credit score?

While you may know a lot about test scores, how much do you know about credit scores? One day, these scores will have an important influence over financial matters in your life, so it pays to learn about them sooner rather than later.

Credit Score History

Credit scores are like the grades on your report card. They’re a way to quickly summarize how well you’re doing financially. Credit scores help lenders gauge how good you are at making timely payments. This helps lenders understand if you’re a trustworthy borrower. Before credit scoring existed, determining creditworthiness was difficult and relied a lot on reputation and word of mouth.

How Credit Scores Work

Today, credit scores are calculated based on your credit history, which is tracked by credit reporting agencies. Your credit history includes your payment track record, public records information and personal data, such as where you’ve lived and worked. Companies take this information and use a mathematical formula to figure out your credit score. In general, the better you are at paying back loans on time, the more your credit score improves.

The Importance of Credit Scores

Having a good credit history and credit score is the key to qualifying for loans and credit cards with low interest rates and flexible terms. You can start building good financial habits today by managing your money wisely and paying bills on time.

A credit card can help you establish credit and build your credit history. It’s a good tool for learning to handle credit responsibly. Learn more about credit cards at Advancial by visiting Dinero Visa®.

You may be able to snag a smartphone for around $200 (or free!) with a one-year service contract, but the cost to operate a smartphone is not free or cheap.

article preview image How much does a smartphone really cost?

You may be able to snag a smartphone for around $200 (or free!) with a one-year service contract, but the cost to operate a smartphone is not free or cheap. Whether you or your parents cover the cost, the monthly cellphone bill can take a bite out of the family budget. However, if you’re a savvy shopper, you can score a great deal.

Check all of the major mobile carriers, smaller carriers and brands, then weigh your options. You can usually find two common smartphone deals. One type offers a discount on the upfront price of a phone. Another comes as a bundle deal when you buy a new plan or trade in a used device.

Plans with talk, text and data can be pricey! A basic smartphone plan with one line might set you back around $75 a month. Plans with multiple lines cost more, but the cost per line is usually less. The price depends on which carrier you use and what’s included in the plan.

Unlimited plans are the most expensive with unlimited talk, text and data.

Shared plans may have a monthly limit on the data that can be used by everyone on the plan.

Plans with limits on talk, text and data are generally the cheapest, but be aware of plan caps to avoid burning through your data each month. Overage fees can add up fast.

Prepaid plans have no annual service contracts. With this type of plan, you prepay for service.

When you’re ready to manage your own mobile device, be smart about the costs. Start saving money now in your Dinero Teens savings account at Advancial.

One-year cost of a smartphone

If you buy a smartphone with a 12-month service agreement, you’ll pay about $60 a month for a basic plan with 4GB of data. If you use more data for streaming music and videos, the costs may be higher!

Cost to buy a smartphone [2 $100 bills stacked] $200

Yearly cost to operate [7 $100 bills & $20, stacked] $720

Source: Consumer Reports. Hypothetical example based on average monthly cost for a basic smartphone plan with one phone line with 4GB of data per month.

Teens have a lot on their plates these days. Effective time management is key. It helps you decide which things are urgent and which can wait.
Teen with a clock Time Management for Teens

Teens have a lot on their plates these days – just look at what Erin juggles in her schedule every week:

  • Going to school and studying
  • Soccer practice, workouts and games
  • Playing flute in band
  • Working part-time at a pizzeria
  • Volunteering at a pet shelter
  • Helping with chores at home

On top of this, she also wants to make time for family and friends – and social media only adds to the expectations of staying connected. If your plate is full like Erin’s, effective time management is key. It helps you decide which things are urgent and which can wait. Here are four ideas on how to get started: 

1.     Put Your Schedule in Writing

 Create an online calendar to sync to your smartphone, or buy a planner and keep it handy. Fill in all your scheduled activities first (school, work, studying, etc.), then add the other things you need to work in (social engagements, chores, family time, etc.). Use calendar updates to add new events as they come up. Tip: color code each activity to stay more organized.

2.     Review Your Time Commitments

Do you feel like you don't have time to breathe? Take a hard look at your schedule to see if you can cut back on things such as work hours or volunteering. If your schedule is super packed, consider eliminating one or more of your activities, at least in the short term. Don’t forget to schedule time for yourself.

3.     Control Procrastination

Putting off things until the last minute or missing deadlines because you waited too long to start something is procrastination. It’s also stressful. Start projects or homework early and break tasks into smaller ones to help keep you on track.   

4.     Evaluate Your Happiness

Everyone needs balance in their life. Extracurricular activities like sports or band can help enhance your learning and help you with social interactions and leadership opportunities. Spending time with friends is also important for your happiness. If your schedule weighs too heavily one way or the other, consider making adjustments.

Need help managing your finances?

While you’re working and juggling the stresses that come with being a teenager, don’t forget that your money needs managing, too! Schedule some time to learn about financial responsibility, saving and still having some extra spending money on the side. Advancial offers great saving and spending tools to help you learn how to manage money wisely. Visit Dinero Teens Savings to learn more.

As the holidays approach we want to remind you that fraudsters do not take holidays off. The holidays are even more reason to be aware of fraud tactics and scams.
fraud awareness Did you know it’s Fraud Education Awareness Week?
As the holidays approach we want to remind you that fraudsters do not take holidays off. The holidays are even more reason to be aware of fraud tactics and scams as fraudsters are working overtime to scam unsuspecting individuals. In particular, phishing attacks are being used more than ever.
 
Review these tips and do not fall victim to phishing:
  • If you receive an unexpected email or it appears suspicious, don’t click on it, Delete it!
  • If you receive a phone call from someone asking for personal or financial information, Hang Up!
  • If you receive a text message that appears suspicious, don’t open it, Delete it!
 
If you would like to take it a step further, you can protect your identity by:
 
  • Secure your home computers, tablets and mobile devices to prevent them from being infected with viruses or malware.
    • Add a password that is complex and never write down your passwords
    • Periodically change your password
    • Store your devices in a safe location
  • Monitor your accounts closely and immediately report any unauthorized activity
  • When shopping online, remember to log out of the site when your purchase is complete and use secure passwords on any sites where you store personal information.
    • Do not use the same password on all sites. One breach can lead to a fraudster hitting your different accounts on multiple sites.
  • When shopping or performing online activity, use a private network such as your home WiFi and not a public space.
  • Check out the seller or company before purchasing items by searching for the company online and reading reviews.
    • Person to Person transfers (i.e. Zelle) are for family and friends and the consumer is not protected if they pay a scammer for goods or services.
  • Cover your hand when entering your pin at the store or ATM
    • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • If someone contacts you about fraud on your card don’t provide any financial information
    • Contact your financial institution directly to confirm if the call was valid
 
As always, be sure to share this information with our members and any friends and family you care about. The best way to prevent fraud is to make yourself aware of fraud so that you can stop it before it happens. 
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