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6 Easy Money Saving Tips Any Student Can Use

20 Apr

Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
wallethacks.com

College is a fantastic time of exploration, freedom, and growth.

It’s also a time when many of our habits are formed, especially those about money and saving. These habits can have a ripple effect on your life so solidifying a few good practices today can help you better manage the future.

I have a list of 40+ money tips for college students, which cover the basics like emergency funds and budgeting, but today I wanted to share an extra set of just money saving tips every college student needs.6 Easy Money Saving Tips

Avoid credit card debt at all costs

It’s so easy to charge everything to plastic. Whether it’s textbooks, equipment, or a pizza, make sure that you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

It’s so tempting to pay the minimum and push the debt off another month, but that will result in you paying hundreds of dollars (if not more!) in interest for nothing. If you don’t believe me, you can use this calculator to do the math yourself and find out how much that $20 pizza will cost you!

That’s money you can use to save for your retirement, for a new car, or your first house. Avoiding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is priority number one after graduation.

Start budgeting

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do but getting in the habit early is a good idea. When you budget, you have a better sense of where your money is going.

You can use tools like Mint or Personal Capital to help automate the process and when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the wealth of historic information you’re recording now.

Cook more, eat out less

Your studies and your social activities will probably take up a big chunk of your time, so you’ll be tempted to eat out more than you cook if you’re not on a university meal plan.

Resist the temptation! Eating at a restaurant, even a quick service one, is far more expensive than cooking at home. In the beginning, you’ll be terrible at it. Everyone is.

But stick with it and try to cook as much as you can. It’s healthier, cheaper, and you’ll get better the more often you do it.

Take advantage of student discounts

Businesses give student discounts all the time. They know that students don’t make a lot of money and they still want your business, so they’re willing to give you a break if they know you’re a student.

Always keep your student ID on you and ask if a student discount is available – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Use your student loan for tuition only!

Some student loans are deposited directly into your student account and some are deposited directly into your bank account. If you have one of the latter, do not use the money for anything other than tuition and school related expenses.

If you have no other choice, you can use it on necessities but your goal should be to avoid debt as much as possible. Sometimes you don’t have any other options, and that’s understandable, but make sure before you saddle yourself with student debt.

Earn a little cash in your spare time

We all have downtime during the day and on weekends – try to find a way to turn that time into money.

Whether it’s taking on a side gig, earning some cash online through surveys, or something bigger – building a side hustle that earns a little extra money can pay dividends in the long run. There are a lot of sites online that will pay you money for small segments of work, or gigs, and you can easily finish them in 5-15 minutes of down time.

Jim Wang writes about money on his personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks. Get his strategies and tactics for getting ahead financially and in life by joining his free newsletter.

 

Top 5 Things This Financial Aid Counselor Wants You to Know

13 Apr

 

Whether you are an incoming freshman or a returning senior, financial aid can be confusing. As financial aid counselors, there are things we really want all students to know. Here are the top five things this financial aid counselor wants you to know.

There is a limit to how much financial aid you can receive.

Every school will give you something along the lines of an “Estimated Cost of Attendance” or “Budget.” This is your limit on financial aid at your university and students cannot have financial aid over this amount. This amount will vary at different universities because it takes into account your tuition, room and board, and other estimated expenses that are specific to each university.5 Fin Aid things.jpg

There is a difference between your Estimated Cost of Attendance and your bill.

Your Cost of Attendance is a term that is interchangeable with ‘budget.’ It will include estimated costs for expenses like books and supplies, transportation, housing and food, miscellaneous costs, etc. . (Consider either using all double quotations or single quotations. Double quotations are used above for “Estimated Cost of Attendance” and “Budget” – which is also capitalized – but single quotations are used here for ‘budget’ – which is also lowercase in this instance.)

The university is not going to bill you for estimated miscellaneous costs. If you’re not living on campus, you will not be billed the amount for ‘room and board’ (quotes) on your Estimated Cost of Attendance. Your budget is a list of estimated expenses you may have for the year. Your bill is what you will actually owe. Your budget doubles as your financial aid limit, as mentioned previously, but it’s also a way for you to “budget” (quotes) for expenses that may pop up during the year.  In actuality, your bill will only be tuition and fees (and housing and food if you stay in a dormitory).

Financial aid counselors want you to understand this difference because we often see students taking out loans to cover their entire budget. In reality, these students could have saved themselves thousands of dollars had they known they wouldn’t be billed for their entire Cost of Attendance.

You can get a refund.

So why does your Cost of Attendance/budget even bother to include expenses you won’t be directly billed for? The answer is simple. It’s so you can get financial aid to help cover extra expenses, and this is done with a refund.

Since your budget includes costs like miscellaneous expenses, you may find that you have a budget of $20,000 when you only have a bill of $17,000. This means you potentially have financial aid $3,000 in excess of what you need to cover your bill. In a situation like this, the Bursar’s Office will issue you a refund check. This refund can be used to help cover any of your academic expenses that you won’t be automatically billed for such as: books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. If you are staying off campus in an apartment, fraternity, or sorority, instead of living in a dormitory, this refund can also be used to help cover your off-campus rent.

Your grades really matter.

Believe it or not, grades actually matter when it comes to financial aid. Students must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to remain eligible for financial aid. SAP is measured at the end of every semester, even if you didn’t take classes, and Purdue notifies you by email of your new SAP status. Purdue’s SAP Policy can be found online on the Division of Financial Aid website.

There are no dumb questions.

We are here to help! We understand that financial aid is very confusing, especially if you are brand new student. It’s our job to answer any financial aid questions or help explain things that may seem confusing. Above all, we hate seeing a little issue turn into a big issue just because a student was scared or embarrassed to ask us a question. We’ll be excited that you are seeking more information, and you’ll never know unless you ask.

Are you a student at Purdue who has questions about financial aid? Please feel free to contact the Division of Financial Aid via email or phone.

Thinking Summer?

6 Apr

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April is upon us and that means summer is closer than you think. Even with a bunch of projects and finals between now and then, it’s a perfect time to start preparing for the summer!

If your plans were to kick your feet back and finally get some time to relax, that’s great… Except you’re probably going to be incredibly bored after a week of nothing. So, here’s a handful of ideas on how to spend your summer:

Take Classes

Using your summer to take courses isn’t exactly the coolest sounding thing to do, but being able to graduate a semester or two earlier gets you that much closer to making real money. Worried about the bill for summer classes? You are able to use financial aid to cover it!

Be sure to fill out the Summer Aid Application on your myPurdue account. Without the summer aid application, the Financial Aid office won’t create an aid package for you even if you’re enrolled in classes. You can fill the application out whether you are taking classes on-campus, online, or for study abroad!THINKSUMMERLOGO

In addition to the Financial Aid office’s aid, if this will be your first time taking summer courses or you are a going to be able to graduate in August, you should check out the ThinkSummer website for the Summer Stay and Summer Finish scholarship applications.

Get a Job

Another classic summer option that might make your parents proud: get a job! Due to the large-scale migration out of West Lafayette in the summer there are plenty of job openings both on and around campus. Check out either the Financial Aid or Student Employment job boards to see what’s open and apply ahead of time.

The summer is prime time to find a job that can net you full days of hours which in turn can make a nice paycheck. If you spend the money you earn wisely, you can set yourself up with a nice savings safety net, reduce your student debt, or even have a little fun with a big purchase you haven’t had the funds for.

Get outdoors

Besides working and class, don’t forget to have some fun! Summer represents the prime months to enjoy the outdoors around West Lafayette. Whether you’re looking to get out and hike in the parks, visit the Wolf Park, or local Prophetstown State Park there’s plenty to do. So pause Netflix for an afternoon and do something you wish you could’ve been doing during the winter!

PSA: The State Street Project

Remember that State Street is going to be worked on continuously throughout the summer. As it’s the main route cutting through campus, you’re probably best off if you can find ways to avoid it entirely. If not, just check out http://statestreetwl.com/ to see what sections are currently open and what the current traffic conditions are.

 

Job Searching: Which Jobs to Apply For?

5 Apr

Searching for your first job out of college can be a daunting task. While it may seem like graduation is forever away, it’s actually right around the corner. Not only do you have to learn how to apply for your first real job, you have to figure out which jobs you even want to apply for. Between tweaking your resume and creating cover letters, you’ll quickly realize you can’t apply for every opening. With your limited time, you have to choose which jobs to apply for and what jobs end up being passed over. So here are five tips on figuring out which jobs you should be applying for.first job search post college advice.jpg

#1. Pick your priority

Figure out what your priority is when job searching. Many people won’t even consider job searching outside of the area in which they live, while others are looking for an escape. There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out which job you’ll want, and if you know what your #1 priority is, deciding whether or not to apply for a job makes it that much easier. Here are some different factors to help you find your priority:

  • Location – Many people are tied to one area due to family or their significant others. To them, relocating isn’t an option. Others would like nothing more than a change of scenery; therefore, relocating isn’t a problem.
  • Pay/ Salary – We all need money, but for some people the desire for high pay trumps all other potential priorities.
  • Opportunity for Advancement – Especially if it’s your first job, potential advancement opportunities can make a big difference, as you don’t have to switch employers for upward mobility.
  • Specific Job Field – This may seem like a given for your search, but if you found a job outside of your field that meet all your other requirements, would the field matter?
  • Benefits Package – Typically not the #1 priority, but flexibility, vacation time, healthcare, dental, daycare, or even student loan repayment vary greatly from one employer to the next.
  • Making a Difference – Not all jobs pay well monetarily, but instead rely more on the feeling of making a positive difference in the world.
  • Employer Size – Working at a major company has a lot of exciting benefits to some people. Or maybe you’d feel more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate type of setting?
  • Job Security – Getting that first job is no good if you are laid off right away. If this is your priority, you may be willing to compromise for a job with decent security.

#2 Remember, it’s your first job, not your dream job

If your first job happens to end up being your dream job, congratulations! For the rest of us who make an average of seven career changes in our working lives, the key to a successful first job is using it as a launching pad. Look for jobs that have advancement opportunities or marketable skills to help you propel yourself throughout your career.

You don’t want to end up in a job you hate, but it’s important to remember that this job can be a valuable experience to help land you your dream job down the road. This is especially true if you are leaving college without a lot of experience in your field.

Keep in mind that the salary will be entry-level, as well. Don’t be surprised if you’re not offered the median salary in your industry since you don’t have much, if any, field experience. If you do well, you can earn your advancement in pay or position by moving up within the company or with another employer.

#3 Know yourself

Before you accept a job, be sure that it’s a job you want and not one that parents, counselors, or friends want for you. Hopefully you have had enough life experience to know not only what your priorities are, but what equates to a deal-breaker for you. Does a typical 9-5 sound ideal or does working varied hours sound more appealing? Do you prefer to travel for work or would you prefer to be in the same location every day? Be sure it’s what you actually want or you could be back to job searching again before you know it. This job needs to fit your current lifestyle, not only the “what-if” scenarios you’ve considered for your future.

#4 It takes time (and it might be your job for a while)

Unemployment is not much fun after the first couple weeks, as concerns about being able to pay your bills—and eventually student loans—become reality. It takes time to fill out applications and tweak your resume for each job. Remember that until you find your full-time job, your job is to job search. It is exhausting applying for various jobs for eight hours a day, but it’s better than not being able to make your ends meet.

#5 Utilize your network

If you’re still in school, you’re going to want to take advantage of all those free lunches and other events put on to meet your professors and other staff. Not only do these people have connections outside of your college, they can also be great resources for the future. Talk to them and find out how they got their foot in the door! Don’t be shy about asking for an informational interview from these people. Many have a vested interest in seeing you succeed and will go out of their way to help you. Just be sure to make a good impression while you still can!

Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter

28 Mar

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Did receiving your financial aid award letter raise more questions than answers? Take some time to check out the slideshow above for a little bit more information. Keep in mind that you can pause it to read more thoroughly, or view it in PDF format with clickable links by clicking here.

If you have any questions about your financial aid, remember that you can contact the Division of Financial Aid a few different ways: stopping by in-person, giving us a phone call, or sending us an email.

Typically the quickest way to get answers to questions or solve problems is to stop by our office in-person. We always accept walk-ins as long as we are open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.! Our office is in room 305 in Schleman Hall.

If stopping in-person isn’t an option, phoning in is usually a good choice too! Just call (765) 494-5050 during our open hours (Monday-Friday, 8-5) and we will be glad to help you out whether it’s just a quick question or fully advising you on your aid!

If you can’t stop or call in during our open hours, you can always send us an email to facontact@purdue.edu. While you won’t get the immediate assistance you might otherwise by visiting or calling, this works best if your schedule doesn’t match up with our open hours.

6 Classes to Fill Your Schedule at Purdue

23 Mar

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It’s that time of the year! Making your schedule for next semester and not sure what you should take for those last few credits to get you to full-time? Since our first article for 5 Class Schedule Fillers at Purdue is one of our most popular blogs, we figured it’s time to offer up a few more student suggested courses for those making their schedule for next semester.

Quick information: full-time can mean a lot of different things for undergraduates. For financial aid, full-time is 12 credits in order to have a full award. For academic purposes, the Registrar also goes off a 12-credit rule for full-time. These two are the same for both fall/spring and summer.  However, for billing purposes flat-rate/ full-time billing begins at 8 credits. So whether you take 8 or 18 credits, your base tuition price is the same (unless you have course fees). Graduate student full-time changes fall/spring versus summer, so this information doesn’t apply to them.

Whether you’re looking for something to fill elective credits, general education requirements or just figure you’ll toss another class in to broaden your horizons, there are tons of course options at Purdue. Here is a sampling that other students have suggested:11082590_10153256154614271_7166009571184015507_n.png

PES 115 (Bowling): You may think Physical Education courses were left in the dust in high school, but the 1-credit PES 115 comes as one of the more highly recommended courses from students. The grading doesn’t go off your actual bowling scores, but rather off your attendance and performance on assignments and quizzes. Extra bonus? You can have Pappy’s delivered to your lane since it’s in the Union.

ENG 232 (J.R.R. Tolkien): Feel like you don’t have time for any fun reading during the semester? Well, this class can combine for-class reading assignments with your favorites! Explore Middle Earth by the books during the week and maybe spend your weekends studying up by watching the trilogies.

HIST 371  (Society, Culture and Rock & Roll/ History of Rock & Roll): Not only is the subject matter exciting, but the real sticking point for this class is that the instructor has incredible passion about the subject and makes it fun for the students. The course usually fills up quickly so if you’re thinking about this one, you’ll want to jump on it!

HORT 360 (Interior Flower Arrangement): While arranging flowers might sounds like it could be sneaky difficult, it comes highly recommended by those who have taken it. Remembering a few facts from high school biology will come in handy, but prior knowledge is not needed. In addition, you end up with an apartment full of fresh flowers and house plants at the end of the course. Note this class has an extra fee so it will cost you extra!

COM 212 (Approaches to the Study of Interpersonal Communication): A communication course that can be taken online may sound strange but it is reality. While it might not sound up your alley, this course doubles as both being enjoyable and being one of the more useful courses post-graduation. For better or worse, being able to communicate well in front of other people is a big part of life after college.

CSR 105 (Personal Finance): One of the courses many people often think should be mandatory in high school due to its importance in everyday life. CSR 105 teaches you about how credit works, paying back student loans, and tax information. It might be the most useful course you take in college for your financial future.

While the courses listed have all been endorsed by current and past students, it’s always worth doing some checking on your end as well. Sometimes instructors or the course material changes can make a big difference. You should also take some time to check out how your potential instructor rates on Rate My Professor and see what comments are left there from other students. While individual reviews aren’t always a fair summary of an instructor, seeing several along the same lines can give you a good idea of what to prepare for.

Have a class you’ve taken that was memorable in a good way? Help spread the word in the comments!

Spring Break is Here, What Now?!

15 Mar

Splash park

Spring Break is here and I am excited! Are you? Even though it has felt like spring for most of the winter, finally time off from classes is here.  Are you looking to save money on activities, spend time outdoors, or find indoor activities when the weather isn’t stunning? The Greater Lafayette Area is brimming with outdoor activities during the summer from parks to trails to outdoor performances. You can visit the Lafayette-West Lafayette website here to get more information on all the outdoor activities this summer.  I’ve gone ahead and summarized some of the activities below.

Lafayette/West Lafayette/Tippecanoe County Parks

West Lafaeytte ParksLafayette alone boasts 17 parks. Some of these parks have trails, some parks have pools, most of them have picnic shelters, and some of them are just soccer fields with a concession stand. Not to mention there are 12 more parks just across the river in West Lafayette! There are 3 sizeable parks with hiking trails in West Lafayette (the Celery Bog Nature Area only is 195 acres!) for hikers and casual nature lovers to enjoy. But in my opinion, the most diverse parks lie outside of city limits in Tippecanoe County. The Tippecanoe Battlefield in Battle Ground, Indiana, features a lot of history, including a monument in honor of the Battle of Tippecanoe; it’s also the start of the Wabash Heritage Trail.

Wolf Park

Located in Battle Ground, this park is a sanctuary for, you guessed it, wolves. It’s also home to coyotes, foxes, and bison. They have limited Photographer taking pictures of a wolfhours (1PM – 5PM Tuesday through Sunday) but it only costs $8.00 for an adult, $6.00 for children 6-13, and free for children under 5 to get into the park. There’s a BUNCH of fascinating events happening over the summer also, including Howl Nights (which are awesome) every Friday and Saturday where guests have the opportunity to see the wolves in the evening and hear them howl, something you can’t experience during normal business hours.

Outdoor Art Trail

If you’re into 3-D art, this is the walking tour for you. Scattered across both Lafayette and West Lafayette are dozens of outdoor art pieces that you can walk around and see. There’s even a handy online map for routing out your own personal trail for the day. More information on the art pieces (like Candy Change’s “Before I Die” murals here in West Lafayette) can be found online to give you some background on what you’re going to go see.

Prophetstown State Park

Not only is this one of Indiana’s newest state parks, it’s also full of fun activities to do this summer. You can hike, ride your bike down the bike trails, camp, or even swim for a small fee in the Family Aquatic Center. Also close nearby is the Farm at Prophetstown, where you can take a tour of a horse-powered farm and learn about agriculture.

…but what if it’s raining?

Raining on Window
There’s still plenty to do around the Lafayette area indoors too!

-Visit some of the area’s art galleries or take an art class (glass working, anyone?)

-Check out the area’s nightlife. Whether you’re a pub or a coffeehouse kind of person there’s something for you. Most places offer live entertainment on Friday or Saturday nights too.

– Love all things vintage? Head to downtown Lafayette and check out all the antique stores on the “Antique Trail”. (Or pop over to the Tippecanoe Mall to completely avoid the rain and shop both vintage and major retailers – the vintage store Hot House Market!)

-Enjoy one of two indoor trampoline parks in Lafayette at either Get Air Lafayette or Elite Air Trampoline Park.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Greater Lafayette Area during the summer? Let us know in the comments below!

7 Things You Need to Think About When Planning a Spring Break

9 Mar

Spring Break leader

With less than a week until spring break, now is the time to get into gear if you are planning a trip this break. While there are several websites available that will arrange packages for you, it is possible to get a great experience without having to pay the premium fees associated with those arrangements.

Planning is the most important part of making sure your trip is one of your best college memories. If you plan properly, you can avoid having to spend your way out of an emergency situation.

Things to think about:

1. Plan on a Budget: With a little bit of searching you should be able to estimate the costs of various things from transportation, lodging, food, and what you are planning to do while you’re there. This will help make sure you don’t throw caution and money to the wind when you first arrive and have to sit in your room because you ran out of money day one. Work with your friends you are going with to make sure it is a reasonable amount for everyone.

2. Traveling Companions: Make sure your group has similar expectations. Mixing friends who want to go sight-seeing at historic places with those who want to party will probably result in the group splitting up for most of the trip. If you all agree on the budget beforehand, then everyone can be ready to pay their own way so you don’t have to help cover someone’s expenses unexpectedly.

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3. Destination: Beaches and tropical locations are always popular, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Many parts of the country are beautiful this time of year and significantly cheaper than the traditional destinations.

If you’re thinking about international travel, you need to be sure you have your passport. Passports typically take 4-6 weeks to process, unless you want to for expedited service fees to get it sooner. (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/fees.html)how you travel spring break tips

4. Planning: Depending on the type of trip, work with your friends to create a list of a few can’t-miss activities and places to visit. This can be during the drive or at your destination. Do some internet searches for tourist attractions in the area since you are, after all, a tourist!

5. Travel Method: The spring break road trip is a classic, and will cost you a lot less than airline tickets would. Just be sure the vehicle you take is reliable. Nothing will derail your plans (and budget) quicker than an unexpected car breakdown.

If you do decide to fly, remember that you will need transportation when you arrive! This means either having someone there with a car, renting one, or relying on public transportation and taxis (which can be expensive).

6. Hotels: While you aren’t traveling to see the walls of your hotel room, where you stay can have a huge impact on your trip. If you’re looking to save money on eating, rooms with a kitchen (while usually more expensive) can save you from eating out for every meal.

When booking your rooms be sure to compare rates not just between hotels, but between booking methods. If you call their front desk, that’s not always a guaranteed best price. There are plenty of websites that may be able to reduce the room rate for you.

7. Food: You may think that you are destined for fast food, restaurants, and gas station food, but with preparation you can save a few dollars on food and still eat well. If you have a long trip, you’ll need to eat in the vehicle. Grocery stores are full of food to eat on the go, but don’t buy anything that needs refrigerated. You can’t refrigerate anything so it needs to be okay without and that leftovers are mostly a no-go. Don’t worry too much about bringing food to last the trip because your destination will have grocery stores (the locals do have to eat). Be sure to pick out foods that fit your situation. If you’re relying on a microwave for cooking tailor your choices toward that.

Smart Money Moves for your Internship Paycheck

7 Mar

Nathan Carmany, a Purdue Alumnus, is a Certified Financial Planner for Watermark Wealth Management

The spring semester is underway. Companies are recruiting and having conversations with
your professors about ideal candidates. You attend networking events, purchase new interview clothes, and hopefully land the perfect position for the summer. To stay ahead of your finances, you need to make a conscious plan for your earnings.internship txt crop.jpg

  1. PAY HIGH INTEREST RATE CREDIT CARDS 

The average balance for a college student in 2013 was $499. The average interest for student credit card interest is 13.42% stated as an APR, however, the effective rate after compounding daily is actually 14.34%. What better way to cut expenses than eliminating high interest obligations?

  1. CREATE A SPENDING PLAN

Consider creating a spending plan for the summer and school year to stretch the duration of the funds. Paul Arden stated, “Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.” Think about what opportunities you may put into your own hand with a well thought out spending plan.

  1. PAY FOR YOUR SUMMER CLASSES

Don’t overlook that your credits for the summer internship can cost money. Why not use some of the funds to possibly pay for those? Reduction of your total amount borrowed before interest is capitalized and recommended for faster loan payoff.

  1. PREFUND YOUR LIVING EXPENSES

Seniors, set aside as much as you can. When you find your first apartment or home, somewhere the move will create an unplanned expense. Inevitably it happens, an extra day rental on the moving truck, needing kitchen utensils, towels, or boxes. The money will help cushion for the unplanned expense. Do not forget about the extra cost of hooking up utilities, cable, or the internet.

  1. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUNDgraph spending plan final.jpg

Traditional financial planning calls for 3-6 months of living expenses set aside for an emergency fund. Most people will experience at least one significant financial emergency in a three to five year period. It can be difficult for college students to save a full 6 months of living expenses, but setting aside a modest amount may prevent you from making a call to your parents when something comes up. Like my grandmother taught me, place the money in a zip lock bag and freeze it in a container of water, then see how easy it is to impulse spend!

  1. CONTRIBUTE TO A ROTH

The sooner retirement savings start; the less you have to save over the rest of your life. The compounding of gains and interest early on are difficult to make up if you delay contributing until later in life. By saving it in a Roth IRA, the earnings are tax free after age 59.5, as long a Roth account was opened 5 years ago or longer. That 5 year clock begins with the first contribution to your Roth. If you need access to the money, contributions are removed first without any penalty.

  1. PAY DOWN STUDENT LOANS

Hopefully, you have been informed about the inability for most borrowers to ever declare this type of debt in bankruptcy and that prolonged periods of missed payments will lead to wage garnishment, a much larger loan balance, and the destruction of your credit score. The grace period on most student loans expires 6 months after graduation. Interest is capitalized (meaning that it is added to the loan balance) at that point unless you qualify under a different exemption. Paying down unsubsidized loans (make sure your loan servicer allocate it properly) with your earnings before the end of the grace period is a great way to cut the overall cost of the loan.

Wrap Up

Think about your upcoming needs for the summer, school year, or beyond graduation. Pick one of the ideas to best suit your needs and work on an implementation plan. No matter which idea you execute, a well thought out plan will serve you well.

America Saves Week: Saving for Emergencies in College

4 Mar

AmericaSaves-Leaderboard-728x90-static-rainyday.jpgEmergency savings aren’t for fun. When you don’t need it, you look at a nice sum in the bank that you could be using for something fun. When you do need it, you’re going through some sort of financial crisis and probably won’t be patting yourself on the back for being prepared.ASW Emergency 2 TXT.jpg

As a college student you might not have a lot of spare money sitting around, but having some cash set aside is a lot more pleasant than having to ask the Bank of Mom & Dad for funds because you weren’t prepared. Even if you need to ask for some help, you can save a lot of pride if you let them know you’re able to contribute toward whatever emergency you have.

So how much money should a student save for emergencies? There’s no answer to cover everyone other than “it depends”. The best advice is to anticipate what types of emergencies you may need it for. Things like blowing the transmission in your car, unplanned travel to be with a friend, embarrassing personal health situations, or minor legal issues (like tickets) can all be things that you might feel weird asking your parents to help cover. Even asking for help with reasonable things like food and rent can be uncomfortable if they know that you blew the money you were supposed to use.

A good goal is to save around $500 somewhere where you can’t spend it easily, but can access it when you absolutely need it. That might not cover everything, but it’s a good start on most minor situations you will find yourself in.

How do you get that $500 saved up? Here are three ideas:

  1. If you work, funnel a little bit off each paycheck or from your tips to slowly build it up. Just be sure to keep the money safe from yourself so you don’t use it for impulse purchases. If you treat your emergency fund like a bill and pay yourself first, you won’t miss the money.
  2. When your disbursement comes from extra scholarship, grant, and loan money, take out the $500 then and set it aside.
  3. Save up those mini-windfalls you might get from birthdays, tax returns, and holidays.

It might seem like $500 is a lot to save. But it will feel like even more when you have to pay it in a pinch and don’t have it. Whatever your goal is, set it and get after it. Consider making a pledge to save with America Saves Week as extra motivation to get started.

And remember…

Emergency savings are for emergencies!

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