Browsing Tag

financial goals

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

Important Things to Know About Your Student Loans

April 10, 2019

With total student loan debt in the United States now over $1.5 trillion, students have to be prepared to pay off those student loans when they graduate. Knowing your available repayment, forgiveness and tax options will not only help you manage your student loans effectively—it may also save you money.

Many students fail to look into their repayment and forgiveness options, which can hurt their ability to pay off their loans on time. On top of this, some students don’t realize how private student loans differ from federal aid. To help you understand your student loans, here are some of the most important things to know.

Interest accrues while you’re in school.

When you take out an unsubsidized federal student loan or a private student loan, interest will start accruing as soon as the loan is disbursed. This means that although you can usually defer repayment until after you leave or graduate from school, the interest you owe on the loan will start to build up while you’re in school and will continue accruing throughout repayment. When you graduate, you will be responsible for paying off the interest accrued and your total loan amount.

There are multiple federal student loan repayment options.

Federal student loans have several repayment options. Upon graduation, you’ll be automatically enrolled in a 10-year standard repayment plan unless you opt for an income-driven repayment plan. With one of these plans, your monthly payments will be based on a percentage of your income, and your loan balance will be forgiven after 20 to 25 years of repayment.

Private loan repayment options are limited compared to federal student loan repayment.

Private student loan repayment options are a bit different from federal aid options. Generally, private lenders don’t base your monthly payments on your income. Instead, you will choose a loan term, usually between five and 20 years, with a monthly payment based on paying off your balance and interest by the end of your term. There are no forgiveness options for private student loans.

You may qualify for tax deductions or tax credits.

You may be able to claim certain education tax credits or deductions if you’re in school or paying off a student loan. If you are still in school, you may qualify for the American opportunity tax credit and lifelong learning credit. And if you’re repaying your student loan debt, you should look into the student loan interest deduction and the earned income tax credit. Tax credits and deductions typically have income and filing status requirements, but if you qualify, you stand to save hundreds or thousands of dollars on your taxes.

As graduation gets closer and those loans start to creep up on you a little faster, remember these financial tips from GradGuard to help you out!

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.

Other Transition

How to Become Financially Independent While in College

February 6, 2019

As a college student, you may not feel like a full-fledged adult just yet, but establishing your financial independence shouldn’t wait until graduation. While you might currently be supported by student loans or the benevolence of family, it’s still important to get into the habit of budgeting, saving, and responsible spending. That way, when career opportunities knock, you’ll already be on the firm financial footing of other young professionals.

Here are four steps you can take toward financial independence even if you’re still in college.

Get a Flexible Job

You may already have some experience in the workplace. But if not, college is the time to start building your resume. While the job you choose should have opportunities for advancement and demonstrate responsibility, the position you take should also be flexible enough to allow you to maintain a focus on your studies. Tutoring or working as a personal or research assistant can give you a professional boost in addition to providing a steady source of income. If those jobs don’t grab your attention, look for on-campus jobs as many offer more flexible work hours or downtime you can use to finish class assignments.

Make a Smart Budget

The key to financial independence starts with making a simple budget. Track your expenses and begin to comparison shop for ways to whittle down some of those monthly costs, like a cheaper cell phone plan or a better interest rate on your credit card bill. You’ll be surprised how cutting costs for even minor monthly expenses can make a big difference to your budget in the long term. Smart cuts help you focus on better purchases and limited spending while you’re still a student.

Use Your Credit Card Cautiously

As a student, you’ve probably already been bombarded with offers for credit cards with attractive interest rates, but choose carefully. While it’s essential to establish a line of credit and build toward a healthy credit score, it’s also entirely too tempting to use those same credit cards to live beyond your means. Try not to charge items you haven’t explicitly budgeted for and focus on keeping large amounts of debt from building up.

Start Saving Now

Once you’ve made a budget and begun to trim those expenses a bit, start to squirrel away a little bit of savings every month. Even small amounts of money matter, and over time they can help you build up a larger nest egg to cushion the blow of unexpected costs. Now is also an excellent time to plan how you’ll pay off those student loans and what your minimum income needs to be once you’ve launched your career. Your future self will thank you for the self-restraint, and hopefully, you’ll be able to achieve financial independence sooner rather than later.

Don’t forget that GradGuard has your back! Be sure to always refer to our blog for further tips on financing your future.

Other Transition

What to do With Graduation Money

June 24, 2016

Many graduates get a nice stack of cash shortly after graduation. Whether it’s from your family or friends, it is very important to know how to manage this money. Often, recent graduates tend to blow most of the money at their first opportunity. This is exactly the opposite of what you should do!

If you can’t help yourself and you are just dying to go out and spend some of the money, set aside 10% for spending and keep the rest in your bank account. Ethan Ewing, president of bills.com, warns that “cash in hand can be a pretty dangerous thing.”  Ewing is right, when you carry around a large amount of your money, you are much more likely to spend it!  So take that 10% and have a good time, but make sure you keep the rest untouched!

Some other, more beneficial, options you may consider are provided by Claudia Buck, a writer for The Sarcamento Bee. Getting rid of debt is always a great option. Most graduates today are graduating with thousands in credit card debt in addition to their school loans. Reward your future self by cutting down your debt.

If you don’t want to lose all your money, you should consider saving.  It is always a good idea to save money so consider dropping the money into a savings account or short term cd.

Open an IRA or Roth to help plan for the future. Although these options are long term, they are great ways to put away money and gain interest.

Do you have an emergency fund? No? Well, no better time to start than now! Setting aside money in case of emergencies is always a great way to ensure you will be ok if something sudden comes up.

Professional attire.  If you are going to spend your money, spend it wisely, and invest in attire that will help you in the future.  You do not want to go into interviews looking disheveled and unprepared; you need to stand out in a good way. If you must spend some of that money, invest in some professional attire to help you look and feel more presentable in interviews.

Insurance anyone? This is the best opportunity to get started on a insurance plan. You already have money saved up to pay for premiums in case you don’t find a job.  You definitely don’t have enough to afford medical bills though. Weigh your risks, anyone can get sick! Consider a short-term plan if you are confident you will have a job.  They are offered up to 12 months and provide great gap insurance!