Money Tips for College Students

by Erica Starr 14. November 2012

Money tips for college students

If you are like many young people, going off to college is the first time you begin to feel like an independent individual. Your parents and teachers have taught you all they can to prepare you for the “real world,” and now it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’d like to follow the advice and lessons you’ve learned over the years.

With no one around to scold you or tell you what to do, entering into your newly emancipated lifestyle, it can be tempting to make irresponsible financial decisions; the kinds of decisions that give you immediate gratification without thinking about the long-term effects.

Before you get yourself into a big financial mess so early on in your independent financial life, take a look at these scary stats:
  • According to the 2012 Consumer Financial Survey, 42% of respondents gave themselves ratings of C, D or F on their personal finance knowledge.
  • A recent National Economic Research Associates survey of 6,500 high-debt student loan borrowers found that 65% misunderstood or were surprised by aspects of their student loans or the student loan process. (Source: The New York Times)
  • Approximately one-third of recent grads, if they could do it all again, would have pursued more scholarships or financial aid options, pursued a major that would have led to a higher paying job, or gotten a job while in college and started saving earlier. (Source: Accounting Principals)

Translation: Unless you want to end up grouped into one of these statistics one day, you probably should start getting yourself familiar with the equation of spending less than you’re bringing in. Despite the above stats, oddly enough, personal finance can be fairly easy as long as you are prepared and start the process of saving, prioritizing, and budgeting as early as possible.

It's All About Self Control

For years, I heard from my parents, “Needing and wanting are two very different things.” As with most things, they were right. Just because it’s new and shiny, that doesn’t translate into you being unable to survive without it. Take a few deep breathes and prioritize what you really need to focus your financial efforts on this month. Books? Gas? Tuition? Food? You know, the life necessities when you are a college student. As much as that new COD game or designer outfit may seem like a necessity, you’ll probably discover that you can do without it for awhile.

Where is Your Money Coming from, and More Importantly, Where is It Going?

Repeat after me, “Excel spreadsheets and Personal Financial Management tools like Mariner360 are my friends.” By visually seeing the amount of money you are bringing in versus the amount that is going out, the idea of expenses being less than your income will become a core value in your life. Trust me, once you realize how much a daily Starbucks visit will run you over the course of the month, you’ll start to reevaluate and realize that making small, manageable adjustments to your everyday routine can have as much of an impact as the dent the latte puts on your wallet, but in a much more positive way.

Check out Mariner360, which helps aggregate your expenses and income into one user-friendly platform. You can then slice and dice the information, see trends and even set up alerts (i.e. I only want to spend $50 on dining out a month) that let you know when you are close to hitting your custom set budgets.

Be Leary of Credit Cards

While credit cards are a great way to help you start establishing your credit, they also can be a great way to put you into thousands of dollars of debt. Credit card companies look at college students as fresh meat. They know that establishing credit is important for young adults and so they go to extremes to get you on board early. You’ll see booths at every campus event, and they’ll try to entice students by offering them incentives to open up a card such as free tickets to an upcoming sporting event, or a micro-fiber fleece with your school name on it.

Again, credit cards do help you start to establish credit, but make sure to refer to the “It’s All about Self-Control” tip and pay off your card EVERY month. Use your credit card for only a few specific things such as gas or books. This way, you won’t be overly tempted to put unnecessary purchases on your card and find yourself underwater at the end of the month.

Start a “What If” Emergency Fund

If it can go wrong, it will. It’s Murphy’s Law. The earlier in life you learn this theory, the better. At the end of every month, set aside a few bucks for the “what if” scenarios that you never think, or more importantly WANT, to happen. The more you start getting in the habit of putting money into an emergency fund, the more at ease you will be in the event that you run into some troubles financially.

If you are one of the lucky ones that manage to fly below the radar of good ol’ Murphy and his law, then you’ll have a nice chunk of change to put towards something of importance like a down payment on a house, or that vacation you’ve been wanting to take.

Remember, at the end of the day, managing your finances is a fairly easy process. You don’t need a financial advisor or an advanced degree in finance to establish a good foundation for managing your money. As with most things, simplicity and common sense goes a long way.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

How I Graduated Debt-Free from College

I Just Graduated from College, Welcome to My Private Jet

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

Veteran's Day: Honoring Those Who Served or are Still Serving

by Brian Kavanagh 8. November 2012

Veterans Day 2012

November 11th is the day we honor our veterans and active military as an expression of gratitude for their service and sacrifice to our country. But where did Veterans Day come from?

The 11th Hour

Veterans Day stemmed from the end of World War I, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. Although the Treaty was signed in June, fighting stopped seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, was recognized as Armistice Day, until the Korean War ended in 1954. It was then renamed Veterans Day, in order to pay tribute to all veterans and active military.

How You Can Help Out This Veterans Day

For those who want to help out our veterans, here are three ways you can volunteer and make a difference in the lives of America's heroes.

Wounded Warrior Project - Wounded Warrior helps service members injured in the line of duty get access to programs that directly meet their needs. Check out the site to find out how you can perform a day of service (or more!) in your area.

Buddy to Buddy - Buddy to Buddy connects veterans with service members and vets of our recent military operations overseas in order to provide them with peer support and be a connection to helpful resources. If you have served your country, please consider helping a fellow hero!

United We Serve - United We Serve is a White House-led program that helps connect volunteers with local opportunities to help. You can also post projects on the site to get help for your own local initiative helping military veterans and their families.

Celebrate Our Veterans

No matter how you spend this Veterans Day, don’t forget that it’s all about the service of our brave men and women. We’re honored to be able to provide our services to veterans across the country. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of our military service members and veterans for keeping our country safe and free.

If you are a veteran looking for a home loan, check out VAMortgage.com.

Managing Your Money in Retirement

by Andrew Schreiber 6. November 2012

Money in RetirementYour days of working are over. Now you have to figure out a new financial plan. The nest egg that you have accumulated through your pre-retirement years will determine the type of life you are able to live post-retirement. The more disciplined with saving you have been in your younger years, the more comfortably you should be able to live in your golden years.

If you spent the younger days of your life thinking that you would never make it past 60, yet now 60 has come and gone and you’re still going strong, here are some tips on making the most of your retirement fund.

Rate of Withdrawal

It is very important to determine a safe and conservative rate of withdrawal to ensure that there are adequate funds for your post-retirement years. Determining a safe rate of withdrawal will ensure that you will not run out of money. You must figure out a happy medium between being frugal and living enjoyably. This might require life changes such as home downsizing and reducing or eliminating spending on luxury items and impulse buying.

Asset Allocation

In previous life stages it was important to save and accrue wealth. Now it is time to protect the wealth that you have accumulated throughout your life. This might require reallocating your assets to safer investments. Instead of having high growth investments, it’s now time to invest in more well-established blue chip firms that pay dividends consistently. This will help protect your wealth and guarantee future cash flow.

Continue Working

After retirement, if you are looking for ways to fill your newly gained free time, consider working at a different capacity than before. Working part-time as a consultant or entering a different career path altogether is a great way to fill your time and gain some extra income. This allows you to continue accumulating wealth and live a more comfortable life. It will also keep you physically and mentally active. Finally, if you decide to work, you could be eligible to make use of your employer’s health insurance benefits to further reduce your personal expenses.

With so much newly found free time, it would be easy to go through all of your money in just a short while. Set your new budget and stay on track!

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Has Anyone Seen My $200 Million?

How Your Credit Score Affects Your Health

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It



© 2008- 1st Mariner Bank