6 Ways to Make Living at Home Work for Your Financial Situation

Posted by Kevin Nielsen on Jun 7, 2016 10:35:01 AM

For the first time in 130 years, adults age 18-34 are more likely to be living at their parents' home than in their own home with a spouse or partner. The margin is only 32.1 percent to 31.6, but we haven’t been in this position for a long time. Men are more likely to be at home 35 to 28 percent of the time, while women are currently living more on their own at 35 to 29 percent.

If you’re now back at home, take advantage of your time by preparing for the day when you will be able to leave in good financial standing.

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Topics: Students and College Graduates, Budget

7 Ways to Choose a College When Price Matters

Posted by Tyler Hakes on Apr 20, 2016 9:03:15 AM

The college search process can be a daunting one. First comes all of the homework: college visits, campus fit, admissions deadlines, financial aid paperwork, and acceptance letters.

But, then, at some point you have to face the financial realities: How am I going to actually pay for this?

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Topics: Students and College Graduates, Financial Aid

What Millennials Don't Know About Money

Posted by reagan.nickl on Apr 15, 2015 5:09:36 AM

The Millennial generation have grown up with a vastly different lifestyle than their parents, and the gap between them and their grandparents makes their lifestyle seem unfathomable. After all, Millennials grew up in a world with internet, cell phones, and iPods.

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Topics: Envelope Budgeting, Credit Cards, Applied Principles, Students and College Graduates, Bill Pay

7 Tips for Effective Financial Planning for Traditional College Students

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Jul 8, 2014 1:51:23 AM

Face it, students, there's more to college than beer and parties. If you find yourself hunting for change in the depths of your couch — among the potato chip crumbs and perhaps an old sock or two — chances are you’re not handling your finances the right way. Being broke and living on campus can go hand in hand for most students, so it’s important you manage your money, and prepare for all your educational expenses.

With that being said, here are seven tips for effective financial planning for resident students.

Get a Student Checking and Savings Account

When you’re a college student, you’re eligible to receive plenty of discounts and benefits. Among the most advantageous of these benefits are free checking and savings accounts. Banks like to nickel and dime customers who have too many ATM withdrawals or who write too many checks. As a student, you can avoid these seemingly petty charges that add up quickly over time. Remember to sign up for overdraft protection, too.

Buy Used Books Online or Rent Them

As if tuition wasn’t expensive enough, now you have to worry about costly books. Depending on your major, your books could mean the difference between filling up on Hamburger Helper throughout the semester or starving on ramen noodles. To help cut costs, consider buying your books used from an online retailer like Amazon or renting them. If you buy them used, you can make some of your money back if the edition remains relevant (cross your fingers). And if you’re pursuing an online degree, you might have the advantage of digital materials for your courses which can save you money.

Here are few resource sites for textbook rentals:

FreeTextbook.com

ValoreBooks.com

Neboo.com

Study Hard and Earn Good Grades

If your parents hammered it into your head since day one that your grades would matter, they were right. Not only do good grades result in high academic honors, but they can also lead to financial rewards — and not just in the future when you start your career. Studying hard and earning good grades will make you eligible for a plethora of scholarships and grants that can potentially take care of your tuition, leaving you with more money in your pocket and less debt after you’ve graduated.

Take Advantage of Your Summers

OK, so maybe you haven’t been studying hard and earning good grades. If that’s the case, then you’ll likely spend your summers in the classroom trying to catch up to students who have been on top of things. If you’re not tied down to your college campus during the summer, consider getting a part- or full-time job. Spending the summer at home shouldn’t just be about hanging out with your family and friends; you should work and save up, too.

Internmatch is a good website to check out if you're looking for a paid internship or an entry level job. If you’re worried that your summer job can hurt your Financial Aid, here is a great article on how your summer gig most likely won’t affect your aid.

Skip the Coffee Shop

Do you know what students rely on when they party too much, don’t get enough sleep, and try to ace that unexpected test first thing in the morning? That’s right, coffee. Although it might seem like a lifesaver, buying your coffee from a big coffee chain, like Starbucks, adds up. To find out just how much you’re spending, check out this coffee calculator. You might think you’re saving time by not brewing your own; however, think about how long you'll wait in a line to order that Trenta coffee.

Avoid Eating Out All the Time

Another expensive luxury while in college involves eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. OK, so maybe you’re not eating the recommended three meals per day, but that doesn’t mean you should spend your money at lavish restaurants like you’ve already graduated and moved up the corporate ladder. Like coffee, make your meals in your room or get a meal plan to enjoy the campus restaurants.

Find Compatible Roommates

Finding and living with roommates is a part of the traditional college experience. Believe it or not, you’ll save money by choosing people with whom you’re compatible. Although there’s no foolproof way to make sure you do, you should carefully pick your roommate(s). Not only will this selectivity help you avoid expensive and aggravating moves, but you’ll avoid running into problems that result from a roommate who eats your food or runs up the utility bill.

Earning a Bachelor’s degree while scraping by is no fun. Keep these tips in mind to help you save money.

The author bio: Lizzie Wann is the Content Director for Bridgepoint Education. She oversees all website content and works closely with New Media, Career Services and Student Services for Ashford University

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Topics: Envelope Budgeting, Family Finances, Students and College Graduates

Raising Financially Smart Teenagers: What Parents Must Know and Do

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Jun 24, 2014 2:59:54 AM
Financially Savvy Teenagers
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Topics: Envelope Budgeting, Family Finances, Students and College Graduates

How Millennials Should be Gearing Up for Future Financial Success

Posted by Megan Pacheco on May 20, 2014 1:09:56 AM

Millennials have experienced more difficulties in landing jobs and setting out on their own than previous generations. These setbacks can leave them focused more on their current finances than future success, but the two are entwined.

These important actions will help millennials get set for lifelong financial health.

Ditching the Debt

While it's advantageous to pay off all forms of debt, credit cards should sit at the top of the list. This is because credit cards include revolving debt while things like student loans include installment debt. Revolving debt involves high interest and requires low payments, making it the one that gets many people into financial trouble.

For example, when you purchase something on a credit card, you almost instantly increase the final cost of that item. Unless you pay your balance in full on the next statement, you'll begin racking up interest charges. Every month you make the minimum payment, you only pay a small portion of your total debt. A big chunk of that payment is going toward interest and other fees.

With that in mind, make sure to read through the terms and conditions before you sign up for a revolving account (credit card). Also, remember to pay off your credit card balance in full (if possible) so you can avoid high-interest debt. Millennials should focus on clearing their credit cards first, then use all the money they've freed up to ditch student loans, car payments, etc.

Sticking With a Budget

A budget is essential for long-term financial health. No matter how much money you have, you can't make the best use of it if you're not acutely aware of where it goes. If you're not paying attention, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars a month on non-essentials like fast food or pricey entertainment. That's not to say that you shouldn't enjoy these things, but you should slow down enough to make mindful decisions about where you want your money to go.

The best app to help you handle your finances is the Mvelopes app. Mvelopes will help you create and manage your budget, plan for the future and ultimately get you out of any debt you may be in.

Setting Long-Term Financial Goals

Your budget will help you manage your day-to-day spending, but you need to have long-term goals in mind, too. These goals will guide your savings and investments.

Do you hope to buy a home once you’ve freed yourself from debt and saved enough for one?

Identify your long-term goals. Determine what they'll cost and when you hope to achieve them. These two simple numbers will help you decide how much you need to save each month to meet your goals. As you're setting your long-term goals, look beyond the next 20 to 30 years. Perhaps you’d like to retire in a luxury community like Fox Hill. Or you’d like to gift your grandchildren with a fat trust fund someday. It's never too early to save for these long-term goals.

Investing in the Future

Job seekers probably aren't thinking about their retirement plan when they interview for a position, but perhaps they should. It's never too early to start investing in your retirement. Ideally, you'll make contributions to your retirement through every job you hold. Investing in a 401(K) or IRA allows you to take advantage of tax-deferred earnings, while investing in a Roth IRA with after-tax assets typically have no tax impacts with each transaction. Many companies will match your contributions, helping you further pad that retirement fund.

Considering 46 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for their retirement and 40 percent of baby boomer now plan to work until they die, it’d behoove you to think about retirement today so that you’re not stuck barely getting by tomorrow. Your future depends on it.

Taking the future into account now is important for preparing for lifelong success.

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Topics: Reaching Financial Goals, Family Finances, Students and College Graduates

Is Grad School Worth the Investment?

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Mar 23, 2014 11:08:28 PM

The end of undergraduate school marks a crossroads for many people, where deciding whether to continue on with graduate school or join the workforce arises. Meanwhile, older workers who wish to stay financially secure often ponder upgrading their knowledge assets by returning to grad school as well. For many, grad school is a great decision, but for others it can have a poor return on your time and monetary investment.

What to Consider Before Committing to Grad School

For some, the opportunity to gain specialized knowledge about something they're passionate about can’t be passed up. Others just have fun learning or have a desire to accomplish something that requires an advanced degree. If those are your reasons, going to grad school is a clear solution, but most are in a different situation.

The most common trouble with the decision comes from deciding if the investment of grad school will pay off in the future from increased job security and a better salary. While the traditional impression that more schooling will result in better job prospects and rewards, in many industries this isn't true.

When Grad School Isn’t Worth It

According to data collected, a master’s degree in many non-science and non-business industries is simply not worth it. When analyzed, it was found that there was no benefit in salary or job security from a master’s degree in any of the following:

  • English
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Architecture
  • Social work
  • Education
  • Public administration

Of course, there are exceptions. In general, you'll be better off financially by entering the workforce immediately after graduating. Most of these industries value experience and accomplishments over specialized knowledge that most likely won’t be useful in daily work.

When Grad School is Worth It

The research also outlined some industries where there were substantial benefits of completing grad school. A master’s degree in business administration provides the most benefit in salary, but also in job security as it provides great versatility throughout industries. There were also some other fields of jobs that were highlighted as good investments for grad school:

  • Engineering (industrial/electrical/chemical)
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Marketing (and other business fields)
  • Economics

The average result from master degree holders in these categories was a 15 percent increase to salary over the span of their career. This isn't a complete list, but it gives you a picture of the kinds of jobs that grad school makes sense for.

You also need to consider that the demand in many fields will grow in the near future, making a master’s degree even more desirable in a candidate. The main needs of the future will revolve around the rising need for health care. This means that extra medical specialization will only increase in value over time, making advanced nursing degrees a good investment.

Before you decide to go to grad school, consider all the information presented above. Factoring in your job and salary prospects after you complete your advanced degree will help you figure out if grad school is a smart investment.

If you are really hungry for knowledge but cannot afford to pay the graduate degree price tag, consider finding a friend or an acquaintance that possesses the knowledge base and agree to pay him or her for private lessons. This way you can acquire new skill at a low cost and save time in the process!

Image by Vivas M

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Topics: Envelope Budgeting, Reaching Financial Goals, Life in General, Tips and Tricks, Students and College Graduates

Alternative Ways to Get Funding For Your Business, Home, or Education

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Feb 18, 2014 3:07:17 AM

Financing Your Dream: Alternative Ways to Get Funding For Your Business, Home, or Education

They say America runs on loans. According to the most recent statistics, over 60% of students use loans to cover their tuition and expenses. Small businesses especially need loans, and in 2010 alone, banks gave out over 4 million to entrepreneurs. Most individuals cannot pay for big-ticket purchases like tuition, cars and home outright. However, if you are dreaming of college education or running your own business, you'll most likely need a loan of some sort. While your instinct may be to go to the bank, don’t forget about alternative ways to fund your dream. Here are 3 alternatives to traditional bank loans.

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Topics: Envelope Budgeting, Life in General, Tips and Tricks, Students and College Graduates

How to Survive College Without Credit Card Debt

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Feb 11, 2014 2:31:04 AM

When you start college there's one thing that's almost certain: a crushing amount of student loan debt. Unless you come from a rich family, you landed a huge scholarship, or you saved every dollar you've ever made, college is going to hit you right where it hurts. While it may be tempting to open a credit card, you'll want to think twice. You're already getting in deep with student loan debt; there's no need to make it worse. Here are a few ways you can survive college without getting into any credit card debt.

Get a Job

There's no way around it. You're going to have to get a job. It's not going to be any fun, the hours will terrible, and it's going to make finding the time to study next to impossible, but you're going to have to do it. To get the most money out of your part-time gig, work at a popular local restaurant. This way you'll be able to earn tips rather than limiting yourself to minimum wage. Some shifts will be bigger money-makers than others, but overall it'll be a better job than fast food.

Rent Your Textbooks

Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on new textbooks that will be worth pennies once the semester is over, consider renting your textbooks. Sites such as Chegg offer textbooks for pretty much any course you can think of. All you have to do is get your syllabus, put in your course number, and grab your books. Whether you're taking a course online or at a school like the University of the Potomac, renting your textbook is always the way to go.

Get a Few Roommates

As wonderful as living off campus sounds, you're likely going to find the best rates by staying on campus and getting roommates. The bills will come in, and they'll come in quick, so it'll be nice to split expenses multiple ways. By having roommates, you'll free up a bit of extra money that you wouldn't have if you had lived on your own. Just make sure to set some ground rules to make sure you all get along and don't end up wanting to punch each other in the mouth.

Buy a Bike

You won't need a car to get to class since you'll be living on campus. Hopefully you're either working on campus or at a place nearby so you can bike there. Riding a bike will save you a ton of money during your college days. You won't have to worry about gas, and any maintenance costs will pale in comparison to the cost of fixing a car. As a bonus, riding a bike is infinitely healthier than just taking a car.

Apply for Scholarships

Applying for scholarships is one of the best things you can do to minimize college debt. Don't just apply to one and hope; apply for anything and everything that you're eligible to get. Remember, you don't have to pay a scholarship back. If your grades are a little less than stellar, ask for letters of recommendations from your professors. If you're able to earn a scholarship, it will be a huge load of stress off your back.

Sell Your Possessions

As much as you don't want to, it's time to sell all the collectibles you've acquired over the years. Get rid of games, toys, books, and whatever else you have lying around that you aren't using. Rather than have a huge yard sale, consider selling it online via eBay or Craigslist so you get a decent amount of money for them. Once you're more financially stable you can always get all the items back, but for now, it's all got to go.

It's extremely difficult to survive in college without a credit card, but it's possible. Don't even consider getting a credit card, even if it's just for one item. One item quickly becomes two; two becomes eight and a dinner; and it just snowballs from there. Use these tips, make a budget, and you'll be fine. College will be several financially rough years, but you'll be way better off than your classmates when you graduate completely free of credit card debt. Do you have any other tips for surviving college without a credit card? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Image by Brett L.

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Topics: Reaching Financial Goals, Credit Cards, Tips and Tricks, Students and College Graduates

Student loans, credit history and debt repayment strategy

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Jul 10, 2013 11:41:48 PM

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Topics: Students and College Graduates