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College Finances: Where To Get Money When You Need It

frustrated womanThere are a couple of debt problems that you will face in college but that does not mean you should let yourself be a part of the statistics. Students usually end up with two type of debts: student loans and credit cards. The first is used mostly for school related expenses while the other is for the daily expenses that the student will encounter. The former is necessary but the latter is usually curbed by students to keep debt levels low.

But no matter how much you plan or prepare for it, you will always find something that will deviate from your budget. These unexpected expenses are usually the reason why some students are forced to use their credit cards. The “emergency” expenses can sometimes pile up to become a significant debt that can spiral out of control. Students must take extra care when it comes to their college finances because it will set the pace for their financial life in the coming years.

Smart ways to earn money in college

Since the unexpected expenses cannot be avoided, you need to be prepared for it. While calling mom or dad will get you out of a tight spot, the fact that they are far away will mean you will not be able to get help immediately. Most will quickly resort to credit cards to pay for purchases.

However, if you want to keep your credit spending low, there are smart ways for you to boost your college finances so you can save the cash for these emergency needs. When it comes to earning more, we obviously mean getting a job.

There are various benefits to earn while in college and you will not only get more money to spend, you will also learn various habits that will prove to be useful when you  graduate. The job experience will be noticed by your future employers and carrying that responsibility will bring you bigger opportunities. College students and even new graduates can look for jobs through websites like CollegeRecruiter.com or CoolWorks.com. Try to browse for job openings that are not particular about work history and can partial to your flexible work schedule.

Here are other suggestions that will help you earn more for your college finances.

  • Join behavioral study projects and similar surveys/experiments. There are professors and students on campus who are probably looking for groups that they can study and you can volunteer if you qualify. This usually varies between schools and projects but you can earn a decent amount for these one time projects. Look at the community boards in your campus for these opportunities.

  • Focus groups. Corporations and even local businesses sometimes need the opinion of focus groups and you can see if you can join these. All you have to do is to get in touch with companies and register to be a part of their focus group. You get to try their new products or provide your honest opinion about certain campaigns that they want to release.

  • Use your skills. If you have a particular skill like playing a musical instrument or being academically advanced, you can use this to tutor others.

  • Sell your possessions. Even someone as young as students sometimes accumulate a lot of junk. If you have things that you are not using, sell them off. Or you can trade. That will lower the need for you  to spend.

These are only some of the things that you can do to help raise the funds for your emergency stash of cash.

Sources of money that you should never rely on while in school

While there are options that we highly recommend, there are also those that we strongly advise against. If you need fast cash, never opt for any of these options because you will only make things worse.

  • Payday loans. If you are using payday loans to just get by, then you are putting yourself through a debt cycle that you will find difficult to get out of. The high interest rates of these short term loans will never bring you any good. It will only bury you in debt and the high interest will be robbing a huge amount of money from your college finances.

  • Cash advance. Getting a cash advance on your credit card is also a bad idea because of the high interest rate that you will have to pay off. If regular purchases have a high rate, credit card cash advances will have higher rates than that.

  • Get rich quick programs. There are so many of this online and you have to be very careful about it when you come across these. If they are too good to be true, then they probably are. Be cautious of these and do not, under any circumstances, give out vital information about yourself. If you really want to get rich, you have to work hard for it.

  • Gambling. Surprisingly, some students resort to this when they are in need of big money. This is never a good idea and you will just lose the little amount of cash that you have. You may win a couple of times but it is usually not worth what you will end up losing in the long run.

You have to realize that the quick cash are usually the ones that are most destructive. You do not want to make your college finances rely on these unreliable sources of income.

Financial Tips For New Graduates

graduation cap on top of moneyThe 2013 graduates have marched and have probably stopped celebrating by now. Although there are several uncertainties about their job prospects and all the overall economic stability of the country, one has to remain hopeful about what lies ahead. Although we are influenced by the general state of the US economy, you have to understand that your success, as a graduate, will depend on how you will shape your finances as you move hereon.

When you finish your studies, that usually marks the end of you being your parent’s financial responsibility. You are expected to start supporting yourself financially and move out of your parent’s wing. While you may have learned how to manage your money back in college, that was just the practice stage. Now, you have to face the real world armed with what you have learned and developed in school.

Financial habits that you need to develop after school

There are many financial tips that will tell you what habits should have been developed while you were in school. As you live on campus and away from your parents, you should have had the financial capabilities to see to it that your money is properly managed. But even if your parents were generous enough to give you unlimited monetary supply as you studied, you still need to develop these habits. It is not too late to start practicing proper financial management even as you begin looking for a job.

So what are the habits that you need to develop now? There are many of them but we have selected 3 of the most important financial tips that we believe will lead to the development of other smaller habits.

Budgeting. This is a crucial plan that will help you live within your means – which is an integral part of financial management. Your budget will give you a general overview of your finances – what money comes in and what goes out. You will take note of the financial activities that happen in your life and you will begin controlling that. Your budget plan will make all of this possible because in this plan, you will take note of your income and where it all goes. If you are creating your budget for the first time, you will have to list what you are currently spending on. Once you have a month’s worth of expense data, you can look them over to prioritize what you should be spending on. Take note of those that are not important and you can cut back on. You have to make sure that whatever expenses you have will be within what you can afford to spend. If you are having trouble with a budget template, you can download the free budget planner worksheet on this site.

Save. It is very important that you start saving as early as possible. This is not just for retirement. There are several life events that you have to spend on and it pays to just buy most of them in cash. Here are some of the things that you could start saving up for in order of priority (at least, this is our suggestion):

  • Emergency fund

  • Car

  • Home

  • Marriage

  • Retirement

It is ideal that you concentrate on your emergency fund first and once you have it you can put in even small amounts of money into all the other savings. Or you can do two at a time. You retirement is highly encouraged to be a staple in your savings contribution. You can save up for a car first before you start saving for a home. It all depends on your priorities – the important thing is to aim paying in cash for things that you think you will need in the future.

Smart spending. Lastly, you need to learn how to spend your money wisely. Gone are the days when your parents supported your every expense. Now, it is all up to you. Most college graduates are overwhelmed by the things that they have to spend on. This is not really about being thrifty or too cheap. You want to get the most value out of your money and that entails some serious thinking and consideration before you purchase. Learn how to make a list before going to the grocery and refrain from relying too much on your credit card. These are only a few of the things that you should implement to practice smart spending.

How to deal with your college-incurred debt

Once you step out of college there are two types of debt that you need to deal with.

  • Student loans. You have to realize that 6 months after you graduate, you have to begin paying your student loans with interest. It is important that you come up with a payment plan to help you deal with it. You can visit StudentAid.ed.gov to get information about how you can find debt relief from this credit obligation.

  • Credit cards. Most parents gave their children credit cards to help finance their immediate needs in college. More often than not, graduates find themselves with a significant amount of credit card debt to their name. Try to eliminate these high interest rate debt before the other high interest student loan starts to kick in. Otherwise, both debts could pull you under.

You debt may be a daunting task to overcome but you can conquer it by being organized and disciplined about it. Here are the steps that you can follow to deal with your debt.

  • Know how much you owe.

  • Find out any financial aid that you can avail like any forgiveness program that you may qualify for.

  • Create a payment plan and make sure it coincides with your budget.

  • Make steady payments towards your debts.

  • Know the debt relief options that can help with your high interest credit card debt.

  • Limit your spending to maximize your debt payments.

  • Grow your savings so you don’t have to compromise your debt payments when an emergency strikes.

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