Browsing Tag

finance

Adulting Other

5 Major Spending Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

June 5, 2020

As a college student, socialization can come with the unfortunate downside of being fairly expensive. Going to bars and clubs, shopping for an outfit for a night out, or even just ordering food with friends can all be costs that add up quickly.

In order to save more money on a tight budget, read on for common spending mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

Not Planning

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to avoid overspending. By having a set idea of what you need ahead of time, you are placing a limit on what you can and cannot buy. This can be beneficial, as it helps you set your mind on what exactly you need to avoid distractions. As a smart shopper, take the time to create a shopping list and a strict budget that’s associated with it.

Taking on Fees

Many spending sprees can be bogged down by hidden transactional fees. Credit cards often have excessive interest rates associated with them if not paid off in time. Similarly, paying directly from your bank account puts you at risk for paying overdraft fees if you aren’t keeping a close eye on your spending.

One way to avoid this is to pay in cash, which also helps prevent overspending. If you’re someone more inclined to pay with a credit card, make sure you are aware of all the fees associated with the card you’re using. Similarly, if you’re in favor of using a debit card, find an account that has overdraft alternatives in order to avoid even more additional costs. Ultimately, this can keep you from taking on unnecessary fees if you do happen to spend more than what’s in your bank account.

Making Extra Purchases

Even with a budget and shopping list in place, there’s still a chance you might overspend on things that you don’t necessarily need. When shopping, it’s important to avoid impulse purchases and only focus on the list of items you’re planning to buy. Always stick to the plan you came in with, and if possible, avoid spending too much time looking at the smaller items available in the checkout aisle of many stores, which are designed to grab your attention, but probably aren’t the best for your budget. 

Not Finding Alternatives

The shopping world is forever changing, due to sites like Amazon, along with other websites that offer coupon and discount codes for a variety of internet stores. There is an abundance of money-saving alternatives available for the savvy shopper. Therefore, it’s important to take your time when shopping, both online and offline. After all, the first item you find may be convenient, but also might not be the most cost-effective to buy. Spending extra time looking for alternatives could be what saves you more money than expected.

Indecisiveness

On the flip side of this, taking too much time to shop can hinder your ability to save money. This is because most discounts are offered for a limited time only. While there is value in taking time to shop around and find deals, it shouldn’t be done in excess. Instead, pick a few items, compare their prices and the coupons available, and go with the most cost-effective option.

Before your next shopping trip or spending spree, make sure to plan ahead, and be ready to look for deals that will help you save money and avoid some common spending mistakes!

Career Other

Knowing How to Finance Big Purchases

October 4, 2019

Grand vacations, weddings, and house purchases are all financial commitments that you might consider in a single lifetime. They’re exciting milestones, but they can be incredibly expensive. Spreading out the purchaser’s cost with financing is the easiest pathway to take. Learn how to finance big purchases with a few tips from the professionals. Those lofty dreams are achievable with smart spending.

1. Know Your Budget

You are the only person who knows your budget. Calculating your monthly expenses, such as rent and utilities, is unique to every individual. Take a look at any leftover funds at the end of your billing cycles. These are the funds that are available to pay for your big purchase.

Figure out this amount well before heading to any store. It’s tempting to walk into a shop, listen to the sales pitch and end up with a larger purchase than you intended.

2. Consider a Large Down Payment

The best way to finance a big purchase is by putting down a large amount on the item before financing the rest of its cost, reports Discover. The down payment can be in any amount, which reduces your monthly cost and interest-rate charges.

For example, you know how much to spend on an engagement ring before you select the jewelry. Pay for 20 or 30 percent of the ring’s price right now, and finance the rest over a few months or years.

3. Use the Credit-Card Trick

Financing a large purchase on a credit card isn’t always the best idea. The interest charges across a year or longer will be staggering. As an alternative, look for cards that have an introductory period of around 18 months, encourages Equifax. Use these 18 months, which are free of interest, to pay off the debt. You end up financing the item without taking out a loan.

4. Think About Personal Loans

Almost all lenders offer some type of personal loan. You can always use this financial tool when you know that a monthly payment over a long period of time is possible. Use loans for those purchases that might be tens of thousands of dollars. You’ll secure a reasonable interest rate for a fixed period. Credit scores might dip as you apply and secure the loan, however, but they will improve with on-time payments.

5. Shop Around

You aren’t limited to your local shops for certain purchases. The Internet gives you a glimpse at the unprecedented competition. When sellers must compete, you save money.

Comparison shop online and in your town, suggests Quicken Loans. You might find the same ring or other items for hundreds of dollars less than you thought before. Open up your mind to jewelry sold from an artist or small business. There are more outlets for big purchases today than ever before.

Everyone falls into financial struggles at some point in life. Continue to assess your budget and save whenever possible. Major purchases are part of a unique life that you can be proud of as success follows your every move.

BIO:Brett has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other Student Life

How to Take Charge of Your Finances

July 15, 2019

You’ve done it! You’ve graduated! Now that your textbooks are sold and you are starting out your career, it’s time to take a look at your financial situation. Now is the time to take control of your finances.

Pay off your student loans

The average college student graduates with over $37,000 in student debt. That can seem incredibly daunting as you are just starting your career; however, when you break it down into a reasonable payment plan for your finances, you can chip away at that debt over time. By breaking your student debt into bite-sized pieces every month, you can pay it off within a reasonable amount of time. 

The key is consistency and to never skip a payment. Kathryn Casna, a financial expert from TermLife2Go.com, provides three ways to make paying off your debt a priority: 

  • Avoid missing payments by setting up autopay through your bank. 
  • Eliminate debts faster by paying more than the minimum.
  • Make loan payments non-negotiable: cover them before budgeting for anything else. 

No one wants to have their student loans follow them around their entire life. You can avoid that by creating a payment plan that will get you out of debt and moving forward. 

Create a budget

If you don’t watch where your money goes, you will be stuck always wondering where your money went. After living life on ramen, you may feel like you can forget your college budget when you get your first paycheck. However, if you want to be living the high life in the future, you need to be disciplined now. Creating and sticking to a budget will help you keep those unnecessary purchases in check while helping you to pay for what’s important. 

Todd Christensen, an education manager at Moneyfit.org, breaks down his recommended budget: 

  • 10% Give: Donations, taxes, and acts of kindness
  • 50% Live: Rent or mortgage, utilities, transportation, cellphone, internet, groceries, and clothing
  • 10% Prepare: Emergency fund, care repair or replacement, travel, gift giving, furniture and appliances, and other short-term goals
  • 10% Plan: Retirement, down payment on a home and other long-term goals
  • 10% Improve: Increase your income-earning potential through education (or paying off student loans), training, or starting a business
  • 10% Enjoy: Have fun without the guilt of breaking your budget

Start investing

You’ve worked hard to earn your paycheck. Now let that money work for you. Investing is a way that you can literally make money in your sleep. By investing as often as you can, you can see your money increase without having to do anything. 

While you may think that investing is something that old, rich people do, you have the greatest advantage if you start investing now. Why? Because time is on your side. The longer you can let your investments grow, the larger your return will be.  

Robert Farrington, a financial expert at The College Investor said:

“If you get started investing at 18 years old, you only need to invest about $2,100 per year to be a millionaire by age 62. That number starts to go up a lot the older you get. If you wait until 30, that number becomes $6,900 per year you need to invest – over 3x the amount per year. All because of time.”

College finances are no joke and they are not always easy to figure out. With these tips from GradGuard, you are sure to get ahead of the game!

Other Student Life

A College Student’s Financial Bucket List

June 25, 2019

You’re about to graduate from college, and you’re staring at your financial future with wide eyes. But the more uncertainty that exists in a situation, the more freedom there is to shape it the way you need it. One great way to approach your fiscal future is to create a “bucket list” of things to do as soon as possible to improve your financial success. These simple tips will help you save a lot of money and give you the chance to reinvest in your future.

Cut Your Entertainment Costs

If you’re like most college students, you probably incur entertainment expenses that you might not be able to afford once they’re no longer subsidized. For example, you might have a combo of cable, Netflix, Prime or other streaming accounts, books, comics, and much more. If you seriously cut your entertainment budget to only a few options that you use regularly, you can save yourself real money.

In the analog sphere, stop buying books and magazines and, instead, visit the library. Digitally, you could cancel your cable and streaming video accounts, and turn to YouTube and other free sites. Don’t forget that you can also visit the library to find movies and even television shows. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save if you slash your entertainment budget in this way.

Don’t Be Afraid of Roommates

Like many students just out of college, you probably want to get a place for yourself as soon as possible. However, your post-college years are the best time to get a roommate or two. During this time, you’ll be able to save money on rent if you live with friends or people you know.

This step is also a smart choice if you want to move to a new city shortly after graduation. If you pair this step with relocating to a new and less expensive city, like Tampa, your chances of saving money grows exponentially.

Start a Side Hustle

This is the retirement strategy favored by most millennials these days. Many people of this generation — and many others— use the side hustle as a way to explore their hobbies as a source of financing. For example, you might sell paintings, clothes you’ve made, or many more items, or you might offer services you can render for a fee.

You can also try to collect items such as old electronics, cell phones, gift cards, vintage furniture, and more. Fix these items up, flip them for a buck, and you can make a small bundle of cash. While you’re piling up this profit, as with any business venture, you need to make sure that you keep track of tax expenses to avoid issues in the future.

Use Public Transportation

If you own a car or are thinking of getting one, why not instead focus on public transportation, which is loads cheaper? Though you may spend $5 for a bus ticket to get to and from work every day, you’d still ultimately be paying a lot less than if you buy (or even just maintain) a car. Let’s break this down financially.

If you buy a new car and pay $350 per month in payments and $250 in insurance, you’re paying $600 every month. By contrast, paying $5 per day for public transportation racks up a mere $150 during the 30 days of any month. That difference represents a huge savings you can’t ignore.

These ideas are just a handful of the many ways you can save money and work toward financial success as a college student. Try to expand to other plans if you have the skills and patience, and never sell yourself short. If you cut your expenses and build up your income for a few years in college or just after graduation, you could walk away with huge savings — and a more stable financial future.

For more tips on preparing for life after graduation and making the most out of your college experience follow @GradGuard on our social media!

Other Student Life

Spring Cleaning for Your Bank Account

February 13, 2019

As February rolls in, New Years’ Resolutions start to drift off your to-do list. This is the perfect time to reset and realign your resolutions. Instead of cleaning out your backpack or promising that you will study more, take this time to review all of your recurring monthly subscriptions. Reconsider the value that they are providing you. As a college student, every dime counts! We are here to help you pocket as much savings as possible.

Let’s face it: no one wants to pay utilities on a monthly basis, but this is a necessity. Stay away from cancelling anything that provides you a financial safety net. This includes auto insurance, college renters insurance, student health insurance, money management apps (that you’re actually using), and more.

In this article, we are speaking more towards those pesky recurring payments for products and companies you once desired. As Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, would say, “Does it spark joy in your life?” Follow these simple steps to de-clutter your recurring monthly charges.

Step One: Check Your Apple ID Subscriptions

Whether it’s a trivia app or bird-slinging game, everyone has their kryptonite that will make them pay $1.99/mo. for extra lives. You can check your subscriptions by going to settings > your name > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > view Apple ID > subscriptions.

Step Two: Check Your Entertainment Subscriptions

Notice your monthly streaming subscription hike up in price? Chances are you signed up for a free trial of an added perk and never thought to cancel it. Make sure to think about audiobooks, unlimited eBooks, and music as well.

Step Three: Check Your Online Shopping Subscriptions

When you have a monthly or annual membership fee from an online store for discounted products or free shipping, calculate its worth. Habits change. Perhaps you moved off campus and closer to a grocery store. Many companies will even offer you an incentive to keep the service, thereby lowering it and still saving you money. Some offer student discounts. Make sure you take advantage of these discounts while you still can!

Step Four: Check Your Bank Statements

Now that you’ve cleaned out your online subscriptions, print out two months’ worth of bank statements and highlight the charges you see occur twice. If you don’t recognize a charge, research what the company it is. Was this a free trial you forgot to cancel? Should you keep that gym membership, or use on-campus resources?

It is important to scrub through your financials on a regular basis to ensure that you did not forget to cancel a service you no longer need. Doing so will help you grow closer to achieving your financial goals.

At GradGuard, we know there are some subscriptions that we aren’t ready to give up. One thing that we all subscribe to is the value of protecting ourselves with insurance. It may not give us four hours of Friends repeats, but it does protect the TV that streams it.

Career Other

5 Financial Tips to Help Pay for College Expenses

August 5, 2017

College education plays a pivotal role in a person’s life. It not only broadens your career horizon, but also enriches your life with knowledge, connections, and life-changing experiences. Unfortunately, over the years college tuition has risen significantly, giving birth to new problems, such as a mountain of unpaid student loans and high school graduates choosing to pass on a college education. Luckily, there are a ton of ways in which you can slash costs of college.

Apply For a Grant

You can find grant programs offered by universities, states, and federal agencies. The great thing about grants, unlike other financial assistance programs, is that you don’t have to repay them. Most are offered to qualifying candidates who fill out the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student id. If you are one of the chosen grant recipients, you’ll be notified through a financial aid award letter sent out by the college. In some cases, this letter arrives with your acceptance letter from the college you applied to.

 Work While Studying

Most colleges allow their students to enter a work and study program that allows them to work part-time and earn money in between their classes. Students are paid every other week for an average of 20 hours per week. Common work and study jobs you can choose from include being a librarian’s assistant, tour guide, cafeteria worker, and bus driver. These work-study programs can be a good addition to your resume when you graduate and apply for work. It shows employers that you are hard-working and dedicated.

Protect Yourself From More Costs

If you get hit with more costs while studying in college, this can send you in a state of panic and frustration. It can derail you from the routine you’ve built to achieve a work-study balance. Identify and prepare for all possible expenses that might surface, such as the cost of car insurance if you are planning on driving a car while in college. Study and compare the rates you pay for auto insurance and avoid hefty monthly premiums.  Other avoidable college expenses include nights out with friends and late return fees on the library books you borrow.

Apply For a Scholarship

Scholarships are awarded based on merit. Academic performance and extracurricular activities are taken into consideration. Like grants, however, scholarships also don’t need to be repaid. There are different types of scholarship including college scholarships and private scholarships. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are devoted by universities every year for undergraduate scholarships. Meanwhile, private scholarships are those you can secure from an outside source besides a college, such as companies, non-profit organizations, and unions. Keep in mind, however, that not all scholarships offer a full ride to college. Some only offer to pay a percentage of your 4-year tuition.

Secure a Loan

This should be your last resort, and should be approached with extreme caution and preparation. While student loans have gotten a bad reputation due to the billions of dollars worth of unpaid debt, this can be a good option if planned for meticulously. Borrow only the exact amount that you need. You need to figure out first how much is missing from your current college fund. Remember that you don’t have to accept the whole amount of the loan you’re being offered with. The greater loan amount you take out, the larger your accrued interest rate is over time.

 

Paying for college is a challenge in itself. It can make your time and experience in college harder than it has to be. Don’t let rising tuition fees deter you from getting a good education and the future opportunities attached to it. Use the five aforementioned financial tips to help fund your college expenses.

 

 

 

 

Brock Calderon is recent college graduate with a BA in communications and a minor in English. He is fresh in his writing career and apart from writing he enjoys eating at a new restaurant weekly and exercising to burn off all those excess calories from all those restaurants. If he isn’t writing, eating, or exercising he’s probably watching the most recent episode of whatever show is most popular at the time (Catching up on Game of Thrones right now). Originally from Sacramento California, Brock now resides in Culver City.