Personalfinance tips

Shop Around for your Cap and Gown

The average cap and gown set can cost $100 or more when purchased directly through university bookstores. Just by shopping around online can lead to savings, and if you aren’t sentimental about your cap and gown, you can find used ones for much less.

Thoroughly Clean Your Apartment to Avoid Damage and Cleaning Fees

Before you move out of your dorm or your apartment, clean thoroughly. Cleaning fees and damage fees can be excessive, and taking the time to thoroughly clean before you move out can potentially save you money. Pro Tip: Take pictures of your space before you leave and keep any and all itemized charges that you receive after you move out.

Take Advantage of Career Resources

Most schools offer excellent career resource services, allowing you to work one on one with a career counselor to get help with your resume, interviewing tips, and job placement. Not only can these services help you land your dream job after college, but they’re also typically free, meaning there’s no need to pay for career coaching or a professional resume writing service.

Don’t Supplement Your Income with Credit Cards

We all know the feeling of getting our first credit card. It feels like the sky’s the limit, but if you’re supplementing your income by using your credit card, you can quickly get into trouble. With high-interest rates and often too-generous balances, credit cards should be used sparingly and only when you’re confident you can use them correctly. Use your credit card for small, regular purchases, and always pay off your balance at the end of the month. Pro Tip: If you use your credit card make sure you pay off the full balance; otherwise you’ll spend more on interest and have a harder time paying off your credit card.

Regularly Check Your Credit Score

Saving money in college can really be as simple as checking and understanding your credit score. If there are errors on your report and you apply for a student loan or another loan product, errors will lower your credit score, leading to higher interest rates on your loans. If you don’t regularly check your credit score, you won’t know if there are errors on your score or if there are strategies you can pursue to boost your score. Check out sites like CreditSesame and Credit Karma to get free access to your credit reports all year long.

Focus on Building Your Credit

We recommend that you start building your credit early. Start out with a credit card with a low limit, such as $500 to $1,000, and be diligent about using it wisely. Use it for small, regular purchases, and always pay off the balance at the end of the month. Good to Know: By building your credit now, you can improve your credit score and save significantly on interest in the future by securing low interest rates on future loans.

Multi-factor Authentication

Making a simple financial management app is one thing, and making a secure financial management app is quite another one. Financial transactions and confidential data handling require the highest attention to security. Two-factor authentication adds an extra security layer and makes it harder for intruders to access sensitive information.

Create a Savings Plan

Experts agree that allocating 20% of your after-taxed income to a savings plan will help build a stable and secure nest of funds that can be used towards purchasing your first home, for emergencies, or supporting your kids through college. People usually put their savings in a savings account through their debit or credit card provider.  This isn’t the best thing you can do because these accounts are usually low-yielding. Look into an online savings account where you can typically see ten times that of traditional savings accounts. For example, the bank down the street may offer 0.05% APY while an online service may offer 0.50%.  If you made a single deposit of $1000, which is 20% of the $5000 monthly income, after a year you’ll end up with $1000.50 with the traditional savings account while the online high-yield savings account will have $1005.01. You’ll need to be consistent on your savings though. Realistically, you should be putting in $1000 every month and increase it as your salary increases throughout the years. By doing this you’ll see your account balance grow faster due to compounding interest. Related content: Do you know your net worth?

Prioritize Your Needs

Once you have a clear picture of all of your monthly expenses you can see how much of your money is going towards the cost of living. Living expenses include things you have to spend money on such as the monthly rent, food, water, heat, clothing, transportation, and insurance. You can tell if you’re living above your means if you’re regularly spending more than 50% of your income on this. For example, if your income is $5000 a month after taxes and you spend less than $2500 a month on living expenses, then you are good. You should re-evaluate your living conditions if you’re spending more than $2500 because this will impact your ability to use your money for other purposes such as savings and wants.

Start Budgeting

Putting together a budget is one of the best things you can do to keep your finances on track. There are a variety of different budgeting styles to choose from, like the envelope budgeting system, or you can use a free budgeting app that you can use either on a desktop or download onto your phone. If you don’t like computers and prefer to use a pen and paper, there are free budgeting printables you can download and print out. Make sure you include EVERYTHING in your budget, including irregular spending, so you can see exactly where your money is going. Once you have a working budget, you can make better decisions about how to spend, save and invest. Budgeting is one of the most underrated personal finance tips and tricks, so make sure you conquer your budget. Related: The Debt Snowball Technique

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