Five Tips to Help Students Ace the Savings Game

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Students are better at saving than you might think. When presented with the scenario of receiving an unexpected $100 gift, about half of millennial students said they would put it in the bank, according to a recent independent survey commissioned by Discover. Only 22 percent of students said they would use the money to treat themselves.

The survey reveals that students have unexpectedly good spending and saving habits. In fact, 64 percent of students surveyed said they follow a monthly budget for non-school related expenses.

Find Out: 10 Ways to Go From Millennial to Millionaire

As many students near the end of the fall semester and look forward to a new year, now is the perfect time to refresh financial routines. Here are five tips for financially fit college-aged students to start off the spring semester strong:

1. Follow a Budget for More Freedom

Setting a budget might feel constricting, but it helps you prioritize what to spend your money on based on personal interests. Establish a budget for non-school expenses, breaking it down into categories that are meaningful to you, like meals out with friends, clothing or entertainment.

According to the Discover survey, 57 percent of students with a monthly budget said they stick to a non-school-related budget of $200 or less. And, 21 percent of students keep their non-school budget at $100 or less per month.

2. Mix Up Your Form of Payment

Debit is the preferred payment among students, with 45 percent of those surveyed saying they use their debit card for everyday purchases. Cash is next at 32 percent, with credit cards at 19 percent.

It’s important to expand your forms of payment to see what helps you follow your budget. For example, the responsible use of a credit card can help you track monthly expenses, and also learn to build and manage credit.

3. Take Advantage of Rewards

With only 19 percent of students surveyed preferring the use of credit cards for everyday purchases, many students are missing out on valuable rewards that can put money back in their pockets.

For example, the Discover it for Students card offers 5-percent cash back in rotating quarterly categories up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Discover’s Cashback Match offering also automatically matches all cash back earned at the end of the first year for new cardholders.¹

4. Put Your Good Grades to Work

Some companies offer students and their families discounts for their hard work in the classroom. Examples include student discounts from car insurance companies and local restaurants. Students with the Discover it chrome for Students card or the Discover it for Students card can earn $20 cash back each school year for up to five years if they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.²

5. Check Your Credit Score — Starting Now

It’s never too early to start thinking about your financial future, especially because decisions you make now can help you establish a good credit score for the future. Be sure to check your FICO credit score, another indicator of financial health, through Discover’s new Credit Scorecard tool. Credit Scorecard provides free credit scores to everyone — not just Discover cardholders.

College is the perfect time to solidify good saving and spending practices. Making smart financial decisions as a student can help you establish healthy financial habits for the future.

FICO is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

¹ After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, Discover will match all of the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the following one or two billing periods. If your account is closed or no longer in the cash-back reward program at the time your potential award is calculated, your cash back will not be matched. You’ve earned cash back rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period. This promotional offer may not be offered in the future. This exclusive offer is available only to new cardmembers.

² Good Grade Reward only available to new cardmembers on or after 07/23/15 who indicate on their application that they are currently enrolled in college, and whose accounts remain open when Good Grade Reward is requested. Students with a Discover it or Discover it chrome card who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher (or equivalent) during a School Year (September – August) may apply at Discover.com for a $20 Cashback Bonus (“Good Grade Reward”). One Good Grade Reward per School Year, per account, up to a maximum of five (5) consecutive years from the date your account is opened. Terms of Good Grade Offer are subject to change.

This content is provided by Discover. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not reflect those of GOBankingRates.