Financial Literacy

Money Management

CashCourse Financial Tools

To help students with budgeting and financial advice, UC Davis has partnered with CashCourse.org. By registering, you can take advantage of their online resources. Their user-friendly tools will help you make good choices about your money, and you can take online classes to enhance to your skills. We encourage you to join today!

40 Money Management Tips

The publication 40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know by the National Endowment of Financial Education provides a comprehensive list of great tips and information.

Managing money is the key to financial success, but it can be especially difficult for students on a tight budget. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office has put together a few ideas below to help make it easier for you. And to reduce financial stress, visit the Student Health and Counseling Services blog for helpful tips and information.

Banking and Credit Card Management

Before choosing a bank, visit their website or local branch. Determine whether they offer free checking and savings accounts for students, and if you need to have a minimum account balance to avoid fees. Make sure you will have ATM access conveniently located near you.  And confirm if there are the fees for using out-of-network ATMs. Once you’ve chosen a bank, one of the most important things you can do is set up online or mobile banking. This will give you 24/7 access to your account information and help you manage your deposits and spending. And if you receive financial aid, be sure to arrange for direct deposit.

To resist the temptation to overspend, we suggest that students avoid carrying credit cards.  While having a credit card can be a valuable financial tool, you need to manage your money wisely.  The Federal Reserve Board's consumer guide can help you make informed financial decisions before choosing to apply for credit.

Budgeting Tools

Establish a reasonble budget using the Monthly Budget Planning Worksheet available through CashCourse. There are also many popular calculators available on the FinAid website to help students plan ahead. 

After you've balanced your budget, begin keeping a detailed record of what you spend. Expenses for one quarter should show whether or not you are following your plan. If you need help making decisions on expenses to include in your budget, try using CashCourse's Needs Versus Wants Worksheet. For ideas on how to easily cut costs, consider the following:

Food

  • Develop a weekly meal plan and go shopping with friends and roommates to help keep you on track. Compare prices at different stores and use coupons to save even more.
  • Learn about nutrition from the UC CalFresh program. CalFresh, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also provides financial benefits for those who qualify.  Visit their website to review eligibility requirements and to access the application.
  • If your budget is tight, consider visiting The Pantry, a UC Davis student run organization available to assist students with meals or personal care items.
  • Eat something before you go shopping; never shop for food on an empty stomach!
  • Pack your lunch to avoid fast food places. If you do eat out, look for best food at the most reasonable cost.
  • Invest in a cookbook (thrift stores carry used ones) and prepare meals at home.
  • Buy house brands and generic products, they are generally less expensive.
  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season, and take advantage of the local Farmers Market.
  • Consider joining the local Davis Food Co-op.
  • If you have tried all of the above options and utilized all of the aid that is available to you, apply for the Aggie Meal Share Program.

Clothing/Personal Expenses

  • Shopping in thrift or consignment stores can be fun and you may find some real treasures! Avoid "dry-clean-only" clothing purchases.
  • Factory discount outlets offer name brand, quality products at less than cost. If you are planning to drive to go shopping, take a few friends and share the cost of gas.
  • Many bookstores and music stores offer less expensive used books and compact discs.
  • Avoid late fees/fines by returning books on time and emptying your locker before the end of the quarter.

Utilities and Telephone

  • Check into the variety of money-saving rate plans offered by telephone companies and PG & E. Remember to figure installation costs into your budget.
  • Find out how to connect to online services through UC Davis from the UC Davis Computing Account Services.
  • Look for the best cell phone and wireless plan that works for you. Beware of extra data plan charges, and early contract cancellation charges.
  • To reduce your PG& E bill and save energy, turn off your lamps, television, and stereo when not in use. Set the thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter to conserve energy.
  • If you and your roommates are looking for a house to rent, ask if you will be required to pay the utilities (water, garbage, etc.) as part of the rental agreement. Water is metered in Davis, so take shorter showers and don't run the water when brushing your teeth.

Heath Care

  • To excel in school, it's important to take good care of yourself first. For those times when you're not feeling well, health care is available through the Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) for all registered students.
  • If you are feeling a little overwhelmed and just need someone to talk to, there are many counseling services and programs available through SHCS Counseling Services. Their staff is here to help.

Transportation

  • Bicycling and walking are the cheapest means of transportation in Davis. Unitrans buses also offer transportation to and from campus; undergraduates with a valid Registration Card can ride free. For trips outside of Davis, Yolo Bus is available to nearby cities and the Sacramento International Airport. Bus schedules are available at the Memorial Union Information Desk. Try something different, take the train! Amtrak offers service to San Francisco or Tahoe for a reasonable cost.
  • Avoid the expensive habit of driving a car. The combination of high gasoline and oil costs, insurance, maintenance, and parking fees (and parking fines!) can make a car a major financial burden.
  • Ride Share. If you are planning a trip, check the Ride Share Bulletin Board at the Memorial Union for listings of rides and riders wanted. Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) provides information about a wide variety of alternative transportation methods.

Recreation

  • A variety of music and drama events is offered throughout the year by the Department of Theatre & Dance, many of them free to students.
  • Look for dance, music, and theater productions at special student rates. Visit the Mondavi Center for special student rates.
  • Participate in your favorite Intramural Sport. UC Davis offers more intramural sports than any other UC campus, you're sure to find a sport you enjoy.

Managing Student Loans and the Repayment Process

Before borrowing, we encourage students to learn about loans so that they understand what they need to consider before deciding to take out a loan.  The Federal Student Aid website provides detailed information on available federal loan programs, as well as  repayment plans, loan consolidation, deferment and forebeance.  The College Board also has a helpful student loan calculator to help students plan ahead.