14 Tips for Money Management

Molly Muir

I. Take Charge of Your Life and Your Money

It's important to use your money to your advantage- don't let it control you. Financial planning can help you reach your goals in terms of savings, spending, and more. Make sure you a. Define your financial goals, b. Make plans to reach your goals, and c. Take action until your goals become a reality.

II. Know the Ground Rules

Chances are your parents will somehow be involved in your college financial situation. You should question how much they will be. Will they help pay, are they expecting you to get a job while on campus, and could they aid you if you found yourself in need of some extra cash? Set the ground rules now and know what will be expected of you (and your parents) in the future.

III. Get Organized

Your finances are just as important as your school work. Make sure you're putting in the same amount of effort and staying just as organized. Knowing where everything is can keep you from suffering from a financial meltdown, making it easier to pay bills on time and catch mistakes. Consider creating folders for different financial documents and paperwork. Keep these files safe!

IV. Understand Your Financial Aid

There are different rules and regulations depending on what type of aid you are receiving. Is it a loan, a job, a scholarship, etc? Scholarships often require you to maintain a certain GPA, a Work-Study Job may prohibit a second job, and loans have due dates. Make sure you understand your aid and keep the cash flowing in.

V. Use Loans as a Last Resort

Loans aren't free. Interest rates change every year, so make sure you know just how much you'll be expected to shell out. Debt could last for 10-20 years if you borrow enough to cover four years of tuition. Look for scholarships and grants as much as possible to decrease your debt, and also use summer earnings. The more you can pay off at the beginning, the better.

VI. Make School Your First Job

Your main focus is school: get as much out of it as you can! While many students work part time jobs during their college careers, this can limit your free time and possibly make you ineligible for certain types of financial aid. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks of a job, and decide whether it would be worth it. Above all, make sure school is your priority, and make sure you are getting your money's worth of an education.

VII. Take Time Now to Prepare for Your Career

It's never to early to think about your future. Do what you can now to prepare for your career, be it networking or perfecting your interviewing skills. Start building a comprehensive resume and learn more about possible occupations, researching salaries and requirements of different jobs. Once you reach campus, don't be afraid to visit the career center which can help you in your job search process.

VIII. Resist Peer Pressure

Roommates and friends may often encourage you to spend money you don't have. Don't be afraid to say no or clearly state your financial situation before you find yourself being peer pressured. Live within your means and look for low cost events. Keep track of your expenses and budget your spending. When all else fails, remember why you wanted a college education and how it will help you in the future, reminding yourself that these sacrifices are indeed worth it.

IX. Take Advantage of Student Discounts

Being a student has its perks. In reference to the last tip, finding low cost events can take a weight off of your wallet. Showing your student ID can give you discounts for transportation, restaurants, and entertainment. Campus health centers may offer free healthcare and buying used textbooks can decrease costs astronomically.

X. Plug Everyday Spending Leaks

The smallest, most thoughtless purchases can be the ones that hurt you the most. They add up over time. Curb your spending habits by keeping less cash in your wallet, cutting out costly habits, and using coupons. When you head for the grocery store, make a shopping list and stick to it. Use your bike when possible to avoid gas costs.

XI. Build Good Credit

If you ever want to take out a loan, make a large purchase, or start your own business, you'll need good credit. To build it, follow these 5 steps: 1. Pay basic expenses on time. 2. Make loan and credit payments on time. 3. Pay loans before using money on other purchases. 4. Only apply for the minimum credit you need. 5. Never bounce checks.

XII. Get Help If You Get Into Debt Trouble

There are lots of resources available to you if you are unsure of how much money you owe, use credit cards to pay normal bills, miss payments, only make minimum payments, or you borrow from one credit card to pay for another. Look to a financial aid officer, your dorm resident officer, a psychologist, and especially your parents. Don't be afraid to ask for help, but make sure you don't make the same mistake twice.

XIII. Pay Yourself First

The best way to save money is to pay yourself first, or put money into your savings account before using it on other things. It doesn't have to be a huge amount, even $10 a month can add up. Make sure you budget in your savings, and consider saving emergency money a goal so you won't have to ask relatives to bail you out. You could also ask your employer to automatically deduct part of your paycheck and put it into savings for you. The goal is to save, but it doesn't have to be a lot.

XIV. Net Worth is Not the Same as Self Worth

Money can help you get where you want to go, but it's up to you to really push yourself there. Don't forget the immeasurable value of friends, family, and hobbies. Focus on managing your money well and enjoying your life to it's fullest potential. Make your money work for you, and build your world on top of it, not around it.