Browsing Tag

financial responsibility

Adulting Uncategorized

4 Money Management Tips That Will Make Your Paychecks Stretch Further

September 3, 2020

Getting a paycheck is always exciting, it’s money you have worked towards all week. However, if you’re not careful with managing that hard-earned money, you can accumulate interest and debt faster than you can pay it off, which can hinder long term financial goals. But fear not, there are different ways of making your paycheck work as hard as you.

Build a Budget

The first way to stretch out your paycheck is to know where your money is going and taking control of how much you spend. Living paycheck to paycheck is not a good plan and can lead to unnecessary stress. Tracking your expenses each month and setting a limit for how much you spend each week are great ways to start understanding what to budget for. 

Writing a list of monthly and weekly expenses helps you know where your money is going and assists with identifying areas where you can be saving instead of spending. Some people map out their expenses and categorize them in order to help with what is a necessary bill while locating unaffordable items. Although it can be difficult to stick to your budget, having one can help you reach a financial goal or pay off debt faster.

Take Care of Business

As an adult, you need to be responsible with your money. That being said, you should be using money from each paycheck to build up your financial stability. Some of the things that you should be budgeting for are:

  • Emergency Fund: Having an emergency fund is useful for unexpected expenses when they happen out of the blue. You can’t predict when your car is going to break down or if you lose your job suddenly. This safety net will help you avoid a free fall into more debt.
  • Savings: Aside from an emergency fund, you should also set aside money for a savings account. View saving money as a stepping stone towards a larger goal such as buying a home. Once it comes time to start searching for a home, check out online listings to help determine what a typical sales price is. This will help you learn more about what you should be saving.
  • Paying off Debt: Finally, you should be paying off student debt with a portion of your paycheck. All loans accumulate interest in addition to your current principal balance. Paying off loans sooner means spending less money over time on unnecessary debt. You can repay debt faster by picking up a side job, funneling extra money towards repayment, and refinancing loans.

Think About Unnecessary Expenses

One black hole for paycheck money is spending money on inessential items. A spending limit is part of a good budget, and that’s why it deserves to be called out. Impulse purchases like coffee and new clothes add up quickly, and it’s something you don’t want to suck up your money. 

However, you can treat yourself on occasion— no one is perfect! Paying in cash or prepaid cards are a great way to set limits for “want” items or rewards. Couponing and buying off-brand products are other methods to still get things that you want while staying in the green.

Manage Credit Cards Wisely

Credit cards are another area where interest can accumulate quickly and pull more money from your paycheck towards another institution. If you do need a credit card, make sure to shop around. Look at the pros and cons of each company and check out their cash back and reward programs.

If you do use a credit card, set a limit for yourself. Make sure you budget for purchases on your card and have a plan to pay your card in full each month. Remember late fees and interest are the enemies.

Paychecks are great and you should make them work as hard as you do. By following the tips above, you can work towards personal finance goals and great management practices! 

Career Uncategorized

Graduated College – Now What?

July 15, 2020

2020 has taken a few unexpected turns that are going to hit the history books. As a recent college grad in the midst of a global pandemic and economic rollercoaster, here are some things you need to take care of now that you are a college graduate.

  1. Health insurance – If you are under the age of 26, try to stay on your parents plan. If you are unable to do so, be sure to find a way to get coverage. Life happens and it can happen fast. You don’t don’t want to get stuck with an out of pocket expense of $30,000 for staying in the hospital for a few nights. 
  2. Have a financial plan – Know what your needs are – living expenses add up quickly. If you have family or friends that are willing to have you for an extended period of time, take it – especially if you have student loans coming up. Saving any penny you can will help you be financially stable.
  3. Finding a job – with unemployment up and COVID-19 making a comeback in some states, it can be difficult to find a position in your specific field. You will need to learn how to hone your skills and be open to learning new industries. Do not box yourself in, and you may stumble upon your dream job!
  4. Create a Budget, AND STICK TO IT – It may sound lame, but having a budget will help you stay focused on your financial goals as well as not creating even more debt you may already be in after graduation.

With the state of the economy out of your control, you can make yourself adaptable. By researching some guidelines and making yourself marketable to multiple industries and positions you will learn to stretch and grow. You will get through this and be stronger for it!

Adulting Uncategorized

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!

Student Life Uncategorized

Are You a College Student? It’s Time to Control Your Finances

April 2, 2020

Getting an education is one of the best things you can do for your financial future. However, it’s just part of the success equation and it’s easy to make financial decisions that complicate things. It’s best to take control of your finances as early as possible and it’s never too early. The tips below can help any college student take charge of their finances.

Establish a Savings Account

Saving money is something that some college students don’t think about because there’s usually a limited amount of money available. Even if that’s the case, it’s best to set aside a small amount of money to serve as an emergency fund. Things happen and you don’t want to end up in a financial bind without a solution.

Avoid Debt When Possible

The biggest debt that most college students incur is student loans. That’s because college is expensive and sometimes it’s hard to pay for tuition and the cost of living without a loan. If there is ever a way to avoid getting a student loan or any other debt, you should definitely steer clear. Some people struggle for a lifetime to pay off student loan debt. If you decide to get a loan, make sure you do so wisely by consulting with a financial aid advisor.

Monitor Your Spending

A simple financial rule that should always be followed is to spend less money than you make. It’s easier to spend more money than you actually earn by using credit cards. This is rarely a good idea and it’s usually something that people end up regretting for many years.

Limit Credit Card Use

Credit cards are surprisingly easy to get when you’re a college student, which can be unfortunate because you’re still learning about finances. Sometimes what happens is the credit cards are maxed out and not paid on time. As a result, a good number of college students end up having to repair their credit later. If you end up getting a credit card, make sure you get one with a low interest rate and pay off the balance monthly.

Stick with a Budget

Having a budget is far more important than you may realize. That’s because knowing how much money you have to spend and sticking with your commitment not to exceed your budget can help you achieve your financial goals. If you need to earn more money, consider a side gig like Uber if you have a vehicle. You’ll be considered a contractor and you can work whenever you want. Instead of receiving Form W2, Uber will use a 1099 generator and send you the information by email or regular mail.

Start Investing

If you’re working a full-time job and they provide a retirement account, make sure you take full advantage of that benefit. It’s easy to think you have plenty of time to invest in a retirement account, but that time will go by quickly. By starting at a young age, you’re more likely to achieve your retirement goals.

Maintain Insurance

Health and disability insurance are two types of insurance that most people should have. If you don’t know whether or not you have these insurance plans, check with your employer. If you don’t have them, it’s time to get them. Not having insurance is something that can have devastating consequences when it comes to your finances.

Being a college student doesn’t mean you don’t have to be diligent about your finances and the financial decisions you make now will impact your future. Since you will probably have a learning curve like most people, it’s best to read as much as possible about personal finances. You’ll be glad you did.

BIO:Brett Clawson 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.

Career Uncategorized

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.

Student Life Uncategorized

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!

Student Life Uncategorized

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!

Student Life Uncategorized

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!

Career Uncategorized

Teaching Others: Why Tutoring is One of the Best Jobs for Students

March 19, 2019

Being a student at any level of education can be quite tasking and fun at the same time. Tasking because you have to go through a lot of course work and fun as you have to explore and experience interesting moments. In the mix of all these, taking up a part-time job is one of the best things you can ever think of doing while at college.

Think about it, you need money to have that “fun” formerly stated and the time you use preparing for classes serves as ample time for study and learning. As tutoring is the most popular of all part-time jobs amongst students, the questions arise of how to start, whom to tutor and why it is among the best part-time jobs for students.

Why Should a Student Tutor?

Tutoring is an academic activity which is in line with what a typical student does, and they can earn up to $1000 per month depending on what they teach. Here are the reasons why you should try tutoring:

  • Very flexible: The timing for tutoring is quite flexible and can allow students to combine their studies effectively with work as opposed to fixed time jobs which might clash with classes. Imagine what it would be like to have a flexible side job; you can work as you want.
  • Intellectual profit: Tutoring requires research before sessions, and if you are tutoring in your field or another field of study, this research will only help to broaden your knowledge.
  • Helps your resume: A tutoring job on your resume helps you stand a better chance of landing jobs once you are out of college.
  • You’re your own boss: Becoming a tutor means that you are your own boss. You can choose your pay and when and where to hold your sessions. Who doesn’t want that?

How to Tutor?

Landing a job as a tutor is one of the dilemmas of students looking to work for money. To go about it, you must consider the following:

  • Identify your strongest subjects and opt to tutor in them. If you’re a science major and love biology, then you should probably tutor for science courses.
  • Advertise yourself and look out for opportunities to help others for free first, then you can move up to paid tutoring once you gain the experience.
  • Reach out to other students in your courses that seem to be having trouble. As they are your aquaintances, they are more likely to take an interest in your help.

When looking to be a financially independent student, being a tutor is one of the best options any student can take advantage of because it lets students combine studies with work giving them all the flexibility they can ever desire in any job.

Remember you can always refer to GradGuard for all of your Tuesday Tips and college hacks! Follow us on social media to be sure you are always in the loop.

BIO: Lori Wade is a content writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and tutoring to marketing. If you are interested in writing or tutoring you can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

Student Life Uncategorized

How to Travel Around Europe on a Budget

February 27, 2019

European countries have a myriad of magnificent, breathtaking places. Especially in spring when nature wakes up, many European cities are perceived differently, as they acquire a special and unique atmosphere.

As spring gets closer, some European cities get ready to welcome spring by having festivals, like the one that takes place in Seville, called La Feria de Abril. Paris also bounces back from the long winter, with the openings of beautiful street cafes around the city. It’s a true delight to the visitor’s eye.

For a college student, spring is the ultimate season to visit Europe. There are not too many tourists and there are some unique events to attend, which you won’t find anywhere else. However, traveling to Europe as a college student can be quite cost-intensive. So how can you afford a trip to Europe as a college student with a limited budget? Here are some effective tips.

1. Opt for Budget Airlines

Besides accommodation, fights are the most costly part of the journey. For instance, a round trip ticket from New York JFK airport to Paris CDG airport can cost you up to $900, which is too much for a college student on a budget.

The best way to save on a flight is going for budget airlines. Although they have specific luggage limitations, it’s still cheaper to pay for some extra luggage. The list of budget airlines is quite impressive, including Ryanair, Wizz Air, and EasyJet. If you still want to go for the “flag-carrying” airlines, download the Skyscanner app. It works out the best when it comes to finding available cheap flights and discounts.

Pro tip: Note, that many airlines have a discount club. For an extra price, you get a permanent discount, helping you save tons of money on flights.

2. Plan Accommodation in Advance

Like with flights, booking accommodations in advance when planning your trip will save you a lot of money. The closer the date of your arrival is, the higher the prices get. So, if you plan to visit Seville for that La Feria de Abril festival in May, you better start looking now.

One way is to choose traditional websites like Booking.com or Airbnb to find accommodation. They offer many options, including hotels, hostels and even rooms for rent. However, if you want both to experience local culture more and save money, the best way to look for an apartment is to try a local service like Flatfy or even go for a completely different experience called Couchsurfing, which allows you to stay with locals, who will give you useful advice on which places to visit and what experiences to try.

3. Use Public Transport to Get About

Lastly, let’s talk a bit about getting around a European city. If you plan to stay long in one location, you need to think about how you’re going to explore the city and which transport you will use.

Using a taxi service can be a bit harsh on your wallet, and public transportation is a very good option in this case. If you want to save money on traveling around a city, you can buy a tourist travel card. For instance, the Tourist Welcome Card offered in Berlin costs only 20 euros and gives you unlimited access to all means of public transportation. It’s a great way to save some extra money and to enjoy the experience of exploring the city.

Visiting Europe should be on the Must-Do list of every college student. There’s no other place with such variety of cultures, architecture, and cuisine. Hopefully, these tips will help you enjoy Europe more without it having to be too cost-intensive. GradGuard is here to help both your finances and all your college tips.

BIO: Kate is a passionate writer who likes sharing her thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, she works as a real estate agent at https://hu.flatfy.com. She likes everything related to traveling and new countries.