Money matters: where to store your cash

Jim McCrane

Many students have some amount of money saved, whether it is $100 or $10,000 or something in between. Some choose to hold it in their wallets or in an envelope. Needless to say, this is never a good idea. Not only do people who hold onto money have the temptation to spend it, but there is no security against the cash becoming lost or stolen. A better alternative is to put the money in bank accounts. Most of us probably have a checking account either at the on-campus Wachovia or another bank. This account is a good start to storing money, but certainly is not the only option.

First and foremost, all students should have at least a free checking account. Free means no fees whatsoever and a small minimum balance requirement. Luckily, Wachovia does a pretty good job of offering such an account for Villanova students, and it is worth considering. Many other banks also offer such an option especially for students. There are no real downsides to such accounts, but plenty of benefits. Also, the money is safe. It is easy to deposit money on campus, withdraw at ATMs and write checks.

I recommend that any student without a checking account consider opening one with either Wachovia or another bank that offers an easy, no-frills account. Secondly,there is no reason not to have a savings account in tandem with the checking account. Unlike most free checking accounts, savings accounts earn interest. I recommend an account from ING Direct ( or VirtualBank (, but there are other banks that offer similar accounts that students can use. These banks have no physical branches, but still carry full FDIC insurance on deposits so any money deposited is protected. Their savings accounts can be linked to any checking account using just the information printed on a check. Once linked, all it takes is a few clicks on a website and about a day to transfer money back and forth between the accounts. Since there are low minimum balance requirements, any student with at least a few hundred dollars in one account should consider a savings account with either one of these banks. They each pay at least two percent interest annually, which is a strong rate for a no-risk deposit in the current sluggish economy. Students who keep most of their money in a savings account enjoy the benefit of earning interest on each dollar just for having their cash sit there.

Some students may have Villanova Wildcard accounts due to their convenience and the fact that we enjoy a five percent discount at the school bookstore when we pay with Wildcard. Although the Wildcard is a good idea, it should never be the primary account for any student. There is only one easy way to access the account (using the card for purchases), and except for the bookstore discount there is no benefit to using the Wildcard over any other account. No student should have significantly more money in the Wildcard account at any time than he or she plans to spend at the bookstore. If parents want to transfer money to their children, it is better to have them write a check or link their checking account to their children’s savings accounts from one of the banks mentioned earlier. All students ideally should have both a checking and savings account to manage their money in the most efficient way possible. As well as earning interest, linking a savings account to a checking account allows a student to develop good saving habits because they have a specific place to put the money they do not want to spend in the short-term.

Since these accounts cost nothing to open, there is no reason not to research them. For more information on fee-free checking and savings accounts, students can check out, an excellent local and national source.