Posts Tagged ‘financial tips’
You are hereby liberated from the late hours spent over books, lukewarm coffee, and a bag of M&Ms. As of now, you are freed from tricky multiple choice questions, complicated labs, and twenty-page papers. While it probably feels good to have that diploma in your hands, you may not feel so good when the excitement and celebrations have settled and you’re left with a sad-looking bank statement.
Let’s face it: college graduates don’t walk across a stage, shake the hand of the president of the university, and fall into the arms of a well-paying job. The transition from poor college student to successful young professional isn’t so smooth, but we’ve got some tips that can help get your financial situation on track from day one!
Size Up Your Debts
The first, and possibly hardest part of getting a good financial start to your young professional life is to figure out how much money you owe. What do you owe in student loans? How much credit card debt do you have? What do you owe your parents, your siblings, and your buddies? What’s left on your car payment? Once you’ve got a good idea on where you stand, you can begin paying off those debts as well as figuring out what you’re currently able to afford.
Evaluate Your Expenses
Consider all of the ways in which you spend your money. Literally, all the ways. Phone bills, gas, food, movie tickets, iced coffees, cover charges, car repairs, professional memberships, donations, candy bars, concerts, presents, new clothes, and everything else you can think of. What could you do without? What are you spending too much money on? What do you want that you can’t afford? By choosing one or two things you’re not going to spend money on anymore, not only will you be able to save money for something else, you’re getting your first experience with creating a budget!
This probably sounds like a joke! How can you save money when you have nothing to save? But even $10 from every paycheck deposited into a savings account will begin to collect interest. While it may not seem like much now, it’s the beginning to something very big. Maybe this is the start to what will eventually be the down payment on your first house. Maybe this will be your retirement fund. This could be your safety net should your car fail you.
Make the Most
Spend a year doing what you can to bring money in. Pick up a few extra shifts, take a second job, or start your own business on the side. By putting a nice dent in your debt, you’re in control, and improving your credit score! While you may not want to spend your weekends at a coffee shop or your nights cashing, it’s better to take control now than be forced to pick up a second job five years from now.
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Attending college also means paying for college. Whether you’ve got savings from your parents, are paying as you go, or recently won $2.5 million from the Powerball, you’ll have to become well versed in the art of penny pinching. Because college is expensive.
According to a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, both Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota are actively encouraging students to control their spending during their college years so they don’t have to live on less later in life. A new program called “Money Matters” will teach students who enroll how to save money and prioritize what they buy. Perhaps this new program was implemented because of Augsburg’s 5% tuition hike this year. It could also have been because students often rack up large amounts of credit card debt during college. Either way, it’s ironic to many students on campus because Augsburg is charging tuition for the course…
A large portion of the “Money Matters” course focuses on wants versus needs. What do you want and what is it that you need? While some students may need to take this course, here’s some free advice on things you may want to give up until post graduation:
Shopping Sprees. Oh, I know. Shopping is a fun, recreational and social activity that helps blow off steam after a stressful week and before a big night out with friends. Try sharing clothes instead or hosting a clothes swap party! Even if you’re shopping at cheap outlets, you’re still spending money on something you may only wear once.
Coffee. I do NOT mean GIVE UP COFFEE. As a huge coffee drinker, in good faith I cannot ask that of a college student. But, you can drink for much cheaper. Chains like Starbucks charge way more than 7-11 or McDonald’s. A small, black coffee is way cheaper than a large latte. Also, you can buy cheap, single-serving instant coffee packets to carry with you or keep in your dorm. Or get a coffee maker!
Books: Used vs. New. Buy used books. It is so simple on Ebay! Many college bookstores will also offer used books mixed in with their brand new copies. If you don’t see them, ask the staff where their used book section is located.
Cars. Public transportation is much less expensive than owning a car. Cars guzzle money through gas, insurance and any maintenance that comes up. If there is public transportation available on your campus, use it! Also, parking on a college campus can be a pain in the neck.
These are a few things you can do, but there are always moments where you can ask yourself, “Do I need this? Or do I just want this?” It’s hard to graduate with debt, so work hard now to avoid pains in the future. You’ll thank yourself!
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