What About Money?
One of the first things you should do after arriving in Reno is open an account in a local bank. There is a Bank of America near the university which offers student accounts and currently has an ATM on campus. Other major banks in Reno are Wells-Fargo Bank, U.S. Bank, and Nevada State Bank. To open an account, you must provide proof of identification (passport, driver's license, or student ID). It is not necessary to have a social security card to open an account. The cost and terms of opening and maintaining accounts differ from bank to bank. Banks may charge for transactions, have a basic monthly fee, offer free checking, or require that you maintain a minimum balance. A monthly statement of all transactions will be sent to you every month or you may access your statement online if your bank offers online banking. You must keep an accurate record of your account to make sure you have enough money. Writing a check without sufficient funds, referred to as "bouncing a check," will lead to additional financial charges.
What are Savings and Checking Accounts?
Services provided by banks in the U.S. are similar to those in other countries, but the terms used may differ from those with which you may be familiar. One of the most common points of confusion is the distinction between a savings account and a checking account. A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings account balance. Different banks pay different rates of interest and require different terms and conditions in order to receive interest. While it is easy to transfer money from a savings account to a checking account or vice versa, you cannot write checks for payment from a savings account.
A checking account allows the convenience of paying for goods and services without having to carry cash with you. Checks are most often used for the payment of monthly bills (telephone, rent, university bills, etc.). Most area stores and establishments accept checks for purchases; however, many require a driver's license in order to use the check. Most banks offer a check card which is often a credit card that will deduct funds directly from your checking account balance. You can apply for the check card at your bank.
Automatic Teller Machines
Automatic Teller Machines (ATM's) are computerized banking machines available 24 hours a day. These machines are operated with a special card and a secret access number, and can be used for depositing, transferring, and withdrawing money. Some banks offer this service for free, others charge $1 or $2 for each transaction. It's important to make note of all transactions in your checkbook. Currently, there is a Bank of America ATM and Wells Fargo ATM at the Jot Travis Student Union (JTSU). A Sierra Nevada Credit Union ATM is located in the Student Services Building.
Where Should I Shop?
Many students have remarked on the temptation to buy more than they can afford in the U.S. You may find that the cost of living in this country is high, especially when you convert the value of U.S. dollars into your own country's currency. It is important to manage your budget carefully in deciding what, why, and where to buy.
Americans do not generally bargain over prices except for big purchases like a car or house. Instead, they shop around to compare prices at different stores until they find the item and quality they want at the lowest price. Prices vary according to manufacturer, retail store, time of year, and even state and local taxes.
Stores provide bags in which you can place your purchase. If you put items in your own bag before paying for them, the storeowner will likely think that you are trying to "shoplift" or steal from the store.
Most places of business run periodic sales. Large chain stores have weekly specials, and smaller establishments have less frequent seasonal sales. You can achieve savings of as much as 50% on everything from winter coats to frozen foods by watching for advertisements in local newspapers. Americans enjoy shopping for "bargains" and will often boast of how little they paid for quality items.
Discount stores such as Target, Shopko, K-Mart, or WalMart sell clothing, drugs, cosmetics, photographic equipment, housewares, bedding, appliances, luggage, and furniture at lower prices than department stores or small shops. Factory outlets, wholesale houses, and thrift stores which sell merchandise directly from the manufacturer, also offer lower prices than other merchants.
With the exception of certain articles of clothing, most unused and all defective items may be returned for a cash refund or exchanged if you have a sales receipt. Stores post their refund policies; check for time limits on returns, save receipts, and notice which stores post "All Sales are Final".
A recent phenomenon in the U.S. is the presence of huge warehouse stores where items can be purchased in bulk for wholesale prices. In Reno, Costco is a store where you can purchase items at reduced cost, such as food, clothes, and a variety of household goods. Be sure to shop critically, however, as not all items are "bargains." Utilization of this warehouse is available to those that work for the University of Nevada, Reno. A yearly membership is $30, and you must show a pay stub or proof of employment at the university. Costco is located on 2200 Harvard Way. For more information, call 689-2222.
How Can I Save Money?
Buying Used Goods
Americans frequently buy second-hand goods. Thrift shops, flea markets, rummage sales, yard sales, and garage sales are common sources of used furniture, clothing, appliances, and household items. Many people furnish apartments by buying second-hand furniture. Used goods may be top quality and only slightly used, however, buying used goods can also be somewhat risky. Always check prices on new items before buying second-hand, and be sure you check out items to ensure that they are in good condition.
You can look in the Reno Gazette-Journal in the classified section for information on yard sales, garage sales, and items that are being sold independently. Yard sales are most often held on the weekends and it's best to get an early start on Saturdays if you are trying to catch the best deals. Look in the telephone directory yellow pages under "Furniture Dealers-Used" for thrift stores and used furniture stores.
You should always try on an article of clothing before purchasing it. By law, cleaning instructions and fabric content should be printed on the label on each item of clothing. If purchasing major items such as coats, wool sweaters, etc., it is best to purchase them during the outgoing season; for example, the best deals on winter clothing are in early spring. Malls are areas where many stores are grouped together in one location. The two largest indoor malls in Reno are Park Lane Mall and Meadowood Mall, both located in the South part of town on Virginia Street. These have major department stores, a variety of specialty stores, and several eateries as well. Smaller outdoor malls or centers include: Franktown Corners, Arlington Gardens, Old Town Mall, Shoppers Square, Smithridge Plaza, and Southwest Pavillion. Reno's newest outdoor mall, Summit Trail is located at the southernmost part of Virginia Street, right before the exit to Carson City and Virginia City.
Supermarkets are the least expensive stores in which to buy food. Usually they are part of a chain of stores owned by one company. They offer fresh, frozen, and processed foods and a wide variety of household items. Most supermarkets accept personal checks with the proper ID and some allow you to use debit or credit cards. Cash is always accepted. In Reno, the major supermarkets are Raley's, Safeway, Albertson's, Scolaris, and Winco (Cub) Foods. Unfortunately, there are no major supermarkets within easy walking distance to the university. Each week, most stores advertise specials - food items reduced in price for that week. Unlike people in some countries who are in the habit of going to the market daily, Americans tend to shop infrequently and "stock up," especially on sale items.
There are several ethnic groceries in town where one can find specialty items not easily found in supermarkets. The following are just a few of them. OISS does not endorse any of the following.
2152 Prater Way, Sparks
Wide variety of food items, including fresh produce.
95 East Grove
Has a variety of items, but specializes in oriental products.
Yim's Asian Supermarket
1210 Rock Blvd, Sparks
Specializes in Korean and oriental foods and gifts.