Posts Tagged ‘ personal finances ’

10 TIPS FOR SAVING $$ AT COLLEGE


CollegeStudent-Pig1. Create a budget before heading off to school.

Sit down and evaluate how much money you have to spend and what you will need to be spending it on. Will you have a job at school? How much spending money will you allow yourself a week? Do you need to go grocery shopping or do you have a meal plan? Are there bills that you will need to pay monthly? What forms of transportation will you be using? Prepare yourself for your regular expenses and put aside money for the fun things that you want to do!

2. Saving money on text books – shop around.
The biggest mistake many college students make is buying textbooks from their school bookstores. Often times many online distributors such as Amazon, Chegg and eBay offer textbooks at a fraction of the original price. Used books are significantly less expensive than new books. Renting a book is a great option. Whether you rent or buy your books, if you don’t need them for reference for subsequent classes, sell them at the end of the semester. Many online distributors buy back used books and their websites will direct you through the sell-back process (sometimes with free postage). Check with your campus bookstore for their book buy-back process, too.

3. Limit the amount of times you eat out.
Once you reach that limit, cut yourself off. Also, check your meal plan – does it offer “swipes” at partnering restaurants near campus?

4. Cut out excessive habits.
There is always that one weakness that ends up costing you an enormous amount of money. $4 a day for coffee before class is $20 a week! That would be $300 a semester on coffee! What could you do with $300 in your pocket?

5. Always pay your bills on time.
Skipping a bill here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal, besides you’ll pay them eventually, right? This can actually end up costing you hundreds of dollars in late fees and even ruin your credit score. If you need a reminder, make a calendar of when all the bills are due, that way you will never miss one. You can also use an online bill pay service to schedule your payments.

6. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
Let’s be honest, you don’t really need 200 channels of football. Use that money for something more useful or on something you can’t go without.

7. Do you really need a car at school?
Many colleges offer free student bus services around campus/town or rides to the airport, bus terminal or the train station. Check with your school for options. Many offer day-long bike or car rentals for a nominal fee.

8. Take advantage of free on-campus activities.
Many colleges and universities offer a variety of free social events on campus. Remember, you pay a student activity fee, so take advantage of these events.

9. Do not use loan money for anything that does not go toward your education.
Your student loans are for your tuition, room and board, and educational expenses. Borrow only what you need and don’t use this money on anything else. Remember, you have to pay them back once you are no longer in school.

10. Flash your student ID for discounts.
Many businesses  including movie theaters and restaurants offer student discounts. Always ask and show your ID.

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Guest Blogger: Megan Lopez, Marketing Intern (student at St. John’s University, New York)

How to Handle Your Finances after a Divorce


divorce
While young adults are living together in increasing numbers, possibly avoiding the fate of being a split-up statistic, divorce rates have actually doubled over the past two decades for couples over 35, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota . When it comes to marriage, baby boomers may be two-time losers. But young or old, divorce, whether legal or laid back, can be an emotional — and financial – train wreck. Here’s how to get back on track.

The credit you deserve
After years of being in a joint financial partnership, it’s time to reestablish your individual credit identity. First, obtain a free copy of your credit report. The three major credit agencies are mandated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide a free copy of your report once a year. The official website is annualcreditreport.com, or you can call 1-877-322-8228 to request yours.

In case you haven’t already; cancel any remaining joint credit cards so that neither former spouse is liable for the other’s debt going forward. If you don’t have a credit card in your own name, you might want to consider applying for one, in order to build your new credit history.

It’s also quite likely that you’ll be carrying a bit of debt with you out of the divorce, such as court costs and attorneys’ fees; perhaps some credit card debt, as well. You may be tempted to pay off those debts all at once with any cash acquired through a settlement, but it might be a better idea to preserve those dollars until you see how your after-marriage money situation works out.

Account for every account
Remember to update the names on all other accounts, such as life insurance beneficiaries and authorized users. You may also have to change the names on deeds and titles to property that was granted to you as part of the divorce settlement.  Assets that may need to be retitled can include investment accounts, vehicles and houses. You may also want to consider refinancing any debt or mortgages that you have acquired in the process. And of course, you’ll want all of your bank and credit union accounts in your name only.

A fresh beginning
If you received the home as part of your settlement, think about if it’s financially feasible – or even emotionally beneficial – to stay. Not only do you have to consider the mortgage payment, but all of the associated expenses, too: insurance, upkeep, taxes, utilities and all the rest. Children can play an especially important role in this decision, depending on their age, school activities and social involvement. From a financial perspective, you will also want to weigh the tax consequences of a sale, though as a single-filing taxpayer you may qualify to exclude $250,000 of the capital gain from your income.

Emergency and retirement savings
The financial transition may be difficult, however you want to remember your short-term and long-term goals. First, having three to six months of income saved for unexpected expenses can help you get back on your feet. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will guide the terms of transfer for any qualified retirement account, such as a 401(k) retirement plan or pension. If you are to receive such assets, a trustee-to-trustee transfer will prevent an unnecessary mandatory tax withholding.

Make a money plan
While few people may guide their personal finances by a formal budget, it’s a good idea to have at least a “back of the envelope” money plan. You may be facing new expenses on your own, such as rent or mortgage payments and even legal costs. The household income has almost certainly changed.  Consider all spending as “up for review.” Total up every fixed expense, determine what can stay and what has to go – and then tackle discretionary spending, at least until you can get into a new financial routine.

Divorce can force you to think ahead, not back. And in matters of money – that’s a good thing.

Note: If you are facing a life changing event such as divorce or are suddenly single for other reasons and you need money management assistance, consider GreenPath, a financial management service that can help keep you on track.

Check out our brochure, Getting Married/Suddenly Single

Guest Blogger: Hal Bundrick, NerdWallet

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