In hard economic times, when even having a higher degree is no guarantee of finding a good job, where are the classes that teach college students and graduates how to handle their finances? Never heard of such a class? Maybe this article will help.
If you are still a college student the number one finance tip should be: do not get a credit card. You will owe thousands of dollars in student loans when you graduate anyway. Why owe thousands more on a credit card? Do whatever work it takes to avoid needing one. If you need the convenience of a card to pay rather than going to the bank every time you need to buy something or get money, get a debit card. Those at the sign up table offering credit cards don’t want to help you. They are looking for suckers.
Along with the above tip, avoid all non-academic debt. That Xbox, DVD player, or stereo system just isn’t worth it, unless you can actually pay for it without charging it. Pay cash instead.
If you are a student in college, don’t join a bank just because it offers a Frisbee, toaster, or something else. A credit union or online bank might be your best bet.
You might have a lot on your mind as a student, but don’t forget to pay your bills on time.
Organize and plan your expenses. Above everything else, have a budget and stick with it. There are online sources to help. Use Quicken or some other online accounting system, or even just Excel, to keep track of your spending. Save your receipts. Don’t give out your Social Security information or similar private information unless the person or business you are giving it to can be trusted.
While you are still in school, there are things you can do to save money. Buy used textbooks; you can save a lot of money if you do. If you are living on campus anyway, use mass transit to travel to town or places; cars are expensive. There are things you can do on campus or nearby for entertainment that are free or inexpensive, such as free movie festivals, concerts, avoiding having friends who are big spenders.
If you are a college graduate there are a lot of financial tips that may help you.
If you have friends or relatives who want to know what to give you as a gift for graduating from college, you might be hesitant to offer suggestions. You might just prefer they give what they want, whether it is money or something else. If they really want your suggestions, however, there are some things that would help a new graduate a lot.
Obviously cash would probably be the most needed and useful gift. A system to file your financial records, such as pay stubs, tax records, and receipts would also be tremendously helpful. A free subscription to a video store or coupons to restaurants would be great for those just starting out and need a little break at the end of a work week but may not be able to afford such things. A magazine subscription to a publication such as Kiplingers or Smart Money magazine would be helpful.
Obviously you would not ask someone to do something like that, but if someone offers to help financially in some way and asks how, you could suggest putting the money in a savings account (which you could use as an emergency fund) or to help you buy health insurance for a period of time. If you know an accountant or someone else who is particularily financially savvy, you might just ask for free financial advice. A gym membership would be appreciated.
You will have student loan payments. You can save on how much you will pay in interest and on monthly payments by consolidating them. If you are having trouble finding a job, you might be able to lengthen the time you have to pay them, which can lower your payments. You might even be able to delay paying them. You will have to check with your financial institution to see what options you have.
If you need health insurance but do not have a job yet, it is possible to buy short term health insurance. Such insurance can be for a month at a time, up to 6-12 months. Some companies might charge you $30 to $80 a month. You might pay less, if you pay the total price up front. If you don’t think you will have insurance for a long time, you can buy long term insurance. It will offer move, but will cost more, often more than $100 a month. With insurance you might be able to avoid having to pay huge unexpected expenses.
These tips are not everything college students and graduates can do to reduce their financial burden. They are only a starting point.
27 Money Tips for College Students, no author listed, Getrichslowly.org
Financial Tips for New College Graduates – A Cheat sheet for Managing Your Money no author listed, no author listed, Moneysmartlife.com