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money management

Adulting Student Life Transition

6 Common Money Mistakes New College Grads Make

March 25, 2021

College graduation is a time of celebration for students and a jumping-off point for the next chapter of life. It’s a time to make important decisions, whether you’re continuing your education with a higher degree, starting your career, or taking a moment to regroup.

But it’s not the time for making poor financial choices. Here are a few common money mistakes recent grads make and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking retirement is too far off to start saving

Retirement may be years away, but it’s better to start saving for retirement as early as possible. The earlier you start saving, the more time your investments have to grow. As you add money to your retirement fund, interest also starts to accrue. Over time, you start earning interest on the interest you’ve earned. This is called compound interest, and it’s a powerful savings tool. The earlier you start saving and earning compound interest, the better.

2. Missing student loan payments

Right after graduation is the time to focus on your financial future, which includes keeping up with student loan payments. This will help ensure you continue to build a positive credit history and possibly improve your credit score. A positive payment history and healthy credit score could open up more money-saving financial opportunities down the road, such as lower interest rates on an auto or home loan.

3. Overspending that new paycheck

If you have a new job in your chosen career field, you could be making more money than ever. But before you go spending your paycheck on the luxury items you’ve always wanted, consider the impact these purchases will have on your budget.

Necessary expenses — like rent, utilities, and groceries — should come first. Less obvious but important expenses like building an emergency fund or having enough for auto insurance coverage should also be considered before splurging on “wants” versus “needs.”

4. Banking where your parents do

The bank your parents use (and now you probably use) is likely a suitable location for storing money in FDIC-insured accounts. It’s not a bad thing to have access to brick-and-mortar locations, but most traditional bank accounts can’t compete with the benefits of online banking.

Making the switch to an online bank could help you earn more interest, avoid unnecessary fees, and still have FDIC insurance. In addition, your current bank might not offer other perks that come with the best checking accounts, like getting your paycheck early or having easy access to your money through a mobile app.

5. Misusing credit cards

Credit cards can be a helpful tool for building credit and having cash flow when you need it, but using them irresponsibly can offset their benefits.

Keep in mind that building your credit history and improving your credit score means following some accepted best practices. This typically includes making your payments on time, using less than 30% of your available credit line, keeping your oldest credit accounts open, having different types of credit accounts (for example a credit card and an auto loan), and not opening too many credit cards too quickly in a row.

6. Skipping renters insurance

Whether you’re back studying on campus or off to live on your own, renters insurance can offer you essential financial protection. This type of insurance can include coverage for clothing, laptops, bicycles, and other belongings in case of unexpected events like vandalism, theft, or fire.

If you keep these six tips in mind, you could avoid some of the common money mistakes that recent college grads make. This will help you take proactive steps to secure your financial future.

BIO: FinanceBuzz’sVP of Content, Tracy Odell, also held the same position at Student Loan Hero and has expertise in this subject, as well as all things related to college finances.

Adulting Student Life

Making Green Decisions in Your College Apartment

February 8, 2021

College can be a stressful period of life that leaves you little extra time to work with. Things like living sustainably and making eco-friendly choices can often be pushed to the backburner as you attempt to keep up with your assignments and attend classes on time.

On top of that, renting a dorm or apartment can make it feel like you have little-to-no say on how your living situation impacts the environment.

Nevertheless, there are still many small, yet powerful ways that you can make green decisions while you’re living in a college apartment.

Consider the Temperature

The easiest way that you can do your part in the fight for a cleaner planet is by adjusting your thermostat. If it’s hot outside, turn up the temp by a few degrees. If you’re experiencing wintry weather, bring the thermostat down a few degrees. If the weather is nice, open the windows up and turn the HVAC system off entirely.

This won’t just reduce the amount of pollution you’re putting into the air, it can also lower your utility bill. This can be a great first step in helping you save money, address debt, and increase your financial independence.

Embrace Thriftiness

Thriftiness is another way to better the Earth and bolster your finances at the same time. By shopping for second-hand clothing, you avoid much of the dramatic wastefulness that comes with fast fashion. You can also get gently-used furniture, sports equipment, and even electronics.

By trying to reuse rather than buy new, you will naturally reduce the quantity of garbage that you’re creating. It is also a great way to save some cash as you tighten your belt and try to get to graduation day.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Even if you’re renting, it’s still up to you to clean your space. Fortunately, you can even turn the act of mopping a floor or scrubbing a toilet into an eco-friendly activity by using green cleaning products.

This can reduce the number of chemicals that you’re using, protecting both the Earth and your own health in the process.

Cook for Yourself

This one can require a little more time, but if you plan things out it really doesn’t have to impact your schedule much. By purchasing food in bulk and then cooking it yourself, you can dramatically reduce the amount of packaging that you’re throwing away.

You can even take things one step further by using reusable shopping bags each time you head to the grocery store.

Bike to Class

Finally, if you live on or near campus, consider ditching your car. Instead, get a bike or walk. By opting for a fuel-free mode of transportation you can avoid putting unnecessary carbon emissions into the air.

The extra exercise is also a great way to stay fit, especially when you’re spending so much of your time sitting behind a desk.

Going Green in College

You don’t have to be the king of your own castle to make a difference. On the contrary, there are countless smaller steps you can take to do your part in the battle to protect our planet, even when you’re renting on a college campus.

So put down your textbooks for a minute and take a moment to consider where and how you can put some extra effort into creating a brighter future.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Adulting Student Life

Budgeting 101 For College Students

December 10, 2020

If you’re like many other college students, the idea of budgeting may seem a little difficult to think about. Some students are easily able to get the things they need throughout their time in college, while others may be restricted to tight budgets or wonder how they will ever make it through.

Here are a few suggestions for those who are looking for budget-friendly ways to navigate through college that may even save a few dollars along the way.

Determine your needs versus wants 

Part of being financially responsible and developing money-conscious habits is knowing the difference between your wants and your needs. It’s human nature to want to have the best of the best — whether it’s clothes, shoes, or the newest tech gadgets. Although it is nice to have finer things, as a college student you will soon realize that these may be things you really want but don’t need. You might also find that eating out and socializing with friends can add up quickly. If you have an income through a part-time job or paid internship, you could probably afford to set aside some “fun money” so you can treat yourself within reason!

Plan and write out your expenses

Growing up, you may have seen your parents making a list of bills or other things they need to prioritize in the near future. This is an excellent habit to start on your own as a college student and use once you have started your career as well. As often as you need to, take a look at your most common expenses and bills and write them down. Have a description of what they are and how much you will need to pay for them. By doing this, you’ll be able to see what needs to be taken care of before you can put money away for savings or splurge. A budgeting app like Mint or You Need a Budget may also be helpful. 

Use discounts and free services as often as you can 

We can all appreciate discounts and free stuff! As a college student, you should always be on the lookout for good deals! This video shares some student benefits you might not know about. You might be surprised how far your student ID could take you — from free tickets to sporting events, to discounts on memberships and subscriptions, and even exclusive deals on laptops and electronics. Sign up for sites like Student Beans and UNiDAYS to start saving.

Creating good money habits in college will benefit you long after graduation day. Happy budgeting!

Career Other

Top 5 Ways to Save Money After College

August 12, 2019

There are 3.6 million college graduates living in poverty, and that is to be expected given factors such as student loans and other college-related debt along with the difficulties one might experience when obtaining a job in their field or the starting wages at these jobs.

Creating a Budget

You likely hear this all the time, but creating a budget is the first step to saving money, especially as you start paying back student loans or other debts. Right now you’re probably getting notifications that you need to start paying off your loans, having to move out of student housing, and basically this whole being-an-adult-thing is about to get a lot harder!

You can do this though! And the first step is creating that budget. It doesn’t need to be fancy. You can even use a free template on Excel or Google Docs. Make sure to carefully document all sources of income and all expenses, even the ones you might want to ignore. If you’re not sure where to start on paying your student loan debt, there are great calculators and resources available.

Saving $$$ on Food

Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat ramen the rest of your life — although there are some fun ways to spice up that cost-effective meal! But a good chunk of your expenses may be coming from food. Apps like Mint actually track how you spend your money and you might be surprised to see how often you eat out or how much those “treat yourself” items at the grocery store are costing you. A great way to avoid those last-minute splurges is making yourself a meal plan with a shopping list, allowing yourself only one spur-of-the-moment item.

Meal planning isn’t just for being healthy, although that can be a great perk, it’s great for time management and budgeting. Simple, cheap meal plans will help you save without living off rice, beans, and ramen!

Cut Back on Utility Bills

A lot of us may have had the luxury of free or discounted internet and TV while living in student housing, but now that we’ve graduated, we’re having to deal with these bills on our own. A great way to cut down bills is to really examine what you need: Do you really watch cable or do you watch Netflix or Hulu? You might even be able to cut down on your internet speeds. An internet connection with 5mbps, though not ideal, is enough to stream and browse the internet.

Getting Married? Don’t Worry!

And then there’s the biggest expense of all—marriage! If you’re one of those ‘lucky’ ones about to make the big commitment dive into marriage, you’re probably stressed about a long list of expenses ranging from booking a venue, the cost of a wedding dress, and all the things that come after. What if you don’t get the things you need most on your registry? And if you’re the one getting to propose, you might be worried about the cost of a ring. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that complicated!

There is even a list of venues that won’t cost an arm and a leg. And if you’re still looking for that special ring you might consider an eternity band that offers special financing and a wide array of options for various budgets.

Creating Long-Term Goals and Building Credit

Two of the most important things to consider after graduating from college are your long-term goals and how you’re going to obtain them. One of the biggest factors for obtaining our long-term goals (such as buying a house) is building your credit. There are important factors to pay attention to when building your credit, such as staying on top of your student loan payments, credit card usage, and ways to avoid negative marks are your credit. There are also options for credit repair if you’re already suffering from negative items on your credit report.

Whatever your goals may be, there are many paths to take, even when you’re fresh out of college and still sorting everything out. If you start saving now and planning for those special life plans, there’s nothing you can’t achieve! 

 For more tips on being smart with your money, check out more of our blogs and follow us on social media!

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

7 Free Apps To Simplify College Life

August 31, 2016

College life involves a huge amount of responsibility. You now have to depend on yourself to stay on track and manage time and money effectively. Luckily, we’re living in an age where you can access almost anything, anywhere. If you invest a few minutes now to download some helpful apps and organize yourself, your sanity will thank you later.

Here are a 7 of our favorite apps to help simplify your life in college:

 

Brainscape  |  SiteiOS App

You’ll need to do a lot of studying in college and a good amount of that studying will likely involve committing information to memory. Create digital flashcards with Brainscape to help you with that! Becuase it’s an app, you’ll be able to keep your flashcards with you wherever you are. Kill time on long bus rides or while you’re waiting for your friends by making good use of it and boosting your productivity!

 

Todoist  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

So much going on at school! If you don’t already have an established way to keep track of all of the things you need to do, consider Todoist. It has a simple interface and will allow you to quickly log whatever task needs doing at a later time. This way, when you’re trying to figure out whether you forgot to complete anything before the start of a new week, you’ll have a single place to reference and keep yourself on track.

 

MyScript Smartnote  |  SiteiOS App – Android App

Some people are better note takers when they write, rather than when they type. If this sounds like you, it may be a good idea to download an iPad app for that exact purpose. You’ll get all of the benefits of having digitized notes, along with a note-taking style that feels more natural to you.

 

Evernote  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

Even if you prefer taking notes by hand, don’t disregard Evernote. If you ever need to keep a lot of information on hand, and would like for that information to be easily searchable, look no further. You can keep various people’s contact info, your schedule, copy/pasted tidbits from your online research, even photos of the handwritten notes you took, all in one central location that has been made easily accessible from almost anywhere.

 

Chegg  |  Site – iOS AppAndroid App

Taking a lot of Gen Ed requirements this semester? Why permanently store and spend hundreds on textbooks that don’t relate to your major, when you can rent those same textbooks for a fraction of the price? You can then put that extra money toward better athletic gear or more fun activities around campus! Already bought your textbooks?  You can sell them back to Chegg at the end of the semester and get some of that money back.

 

Venmo  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

Chances are, as you continue to spend time with your friends, there will be times when you have to spot one another. Because college students are on a tight budget, it’s important to be able to pay back and be paid back in these situations. Venmo is a pretty widely-used app just for this purpose. Because it’s so popular, it’s one of the more reliable digital methods of exchanging money. Plus, at the end of a semester, you’ll be able to look back on your transactions and see where that money went… something that isn’t as easy to do with cash.

 

Mint  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

So, you and your friends are all set, making sure nobody owes each other money. Now it’s time to track your overall budget. Mint is a great service that you can connect to your bank accounts to keep track of where your funds go every month. Though you likely already have a pretty good idea of your overall spending picture, with Mint, you may start to pick up on some patterns that had previously gone unnoticed.

 

 

Protect your sanity and stay organized with free apps for college students!