03.04.13 | 5 Easy Ways for Students to Save

Posted in College Life, financial aid tips, News, Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

Saving vs. SpendingDeveloping good saving habits starts when you’re young, but many students don’t know where to begin. While we know it can be tough to save money when college expenses keep growing, every little bit helps.

1. Automate your Saving

If you receive a regular paycheck from a part-time or on-campus job, see if you can allocate a portion to automatically deposit in a savings account. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but by putting a little bit away into a separate account, you’re more likely not to spend it and can even earn interest on the savings.

2. Use your Tax Refund Wisely

Did you just get your tax refund or are you patiently awaiting its arrival? It might be tempting to spend all of the “extra” money right away, but don’t! Put it directly into your savings account to build interest for when you really need it. That doesn’t mean don’t treat yourself to something nice, just keep it reasonable.
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09.20.12 | Financial Awareness Counseling for Students

Posted in College Life, Financial Aid, Repayment, Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

There has been a lot of talk lately about the financial literacy of Americans, and of the Millennial generation in particular. According to the National Financial Educators Council:

About thirty-four percent of parents have taught their teen how to balance a checkbook, and less than that has explained how credit card interest and fees work and ninety-three percent American parents with teenagers report worrying that their children might make financial missteps such as: overspending or living beyond their means.

To help combat the low rates of financial literacy, the Department of Education has recently launched a new Financial Awareness Counseling program. This online tool allows consumers to enter their student loans and other financial metrics to view reports on things like:Financial Awareness Counseling Tool

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08.31.12 | Best Money-Saving Apps for College

Posted in College Life, Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

Smartphone with AppsSaving money can be time consuming, especially in the fast-paced life of college students. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the best money-saving smartphone apps for college students! Forget clipping coupons, these mobile deal-finders will help you stay on top of your game, while keeping money in your wallet.

The best thing about these apps? They’re free!

Chegg

Any accounting major can tell you that textbooks are expensive. But they don’t have to be. Find the books you need for class through the Chegg app and rent right there or even compare prices!

GasBuddy

Gas is super expensive, so why not save a little money when you can? GasBuddy finds the cheapest gas prices near you so you can save on every fill-up.
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07.16.08 | 5 Ways you can be Penny Wise

Posted in Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

Use the Library: The library is a great place to save money. Most libraries nowadays have internet access (although you have a time limit), periodicals, music catalogs, and obviously books. Library cards are also very inexpensive, if they even charge at all. Libraries are literary treasures and are underused. I go there to look up consumer report information on appliances while my colleague loves taking out books from Oprah’s book club list. My brother Dan loves music and takes out CD’s to listen to.

Hit grocery sales twice. The standard sales at a grocery store last 7 days (they generally run Friday – Thursday in my region). Wouldn’t it make sense for me to make a return trip back on Thursday night and hit that sale one last time? Most people couldn’t be bothered but over the course of the year you could save hundreds of dollars this way. This is like a giant coupon in and of itself, and you don’t need to clip it out of a paper.

Pay cash for gasoline. Did you know a lot of gas stations apply a surcharge when you pay for your gas by credit card? In some places they actually charge as much as 10 cents more per gallon! That is just crazy. It is the classic bait and switch tactic. Some gas stations have now been forced to post two prices at the pumps, but not every station is required to do so.

Get the right phone plan. If you don’t get the right plan it can cost you dearly! I had a 1400 minute plan with Verizon and discovered I only averaged 650 minutes each month (I have become a textaholic). They had a 700 minute plan that I moved to and saved myself about $20 per month. Do the math, that’s $240 more bucks in my pocket at the end of the year. Shame on me for not doing it sooner!

Pre-owned better than new Automobiles. Buying a quality pre-owned vehicle may save you thousands over a new one. Sales tax and excise tax will be considerably less, and of course the sticker price will be greatly reduced as well. Autos are a liability and a depreciating asset already; you might as well minimize the damage if you can.

05.28.08 | Stop & Smell the Roses

Posted in Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

What do you do with your tax return money, unexpected bonus, or $20 bucks Nana kicks you when you come to visit? Do you catch up on bills? Do you buy clothes? Do you go on an eating safari and hit all your favorite bakeries? My buddy Brian joked with me recently that he’d be getting back just barely enough from his government stimulus check to fill his gas tank once. I actually heard this week the national average may hit $4 per gallon by the summer, yikes! My southern friends have it right; saddle up and take your horse to work. I wish I could do that. In Boston that’s not a realistic option unfortunately. Although I suppose if I had to pick up after them like dog owners with a scoop and bag that would be an unpleasant “Jurassic like” experience.

What I do when I have a surplus of money is sock 60% of it away. I start a car payment fund, rainy day fund, or vacation fund. It’s amazing how fast that adds up. You can do the same thing with loose change too. It all adds up so quickly.

The other 40% I spend on me. I buy that golf shirt, take the Mrs. to dinner, or just buy an ice cream cone. Ah, life’s simple pleasures.

It’s really a balancing act of sorts. You’re living for today but planning for tomorrow. Spend too much money and you may end up on the streets if you lose your job. Spend too little and you’ll think you’re missing out while your friends get to have all the fun.

Once you find that healthy balance you’ll feel a lot better. Saving is nice, but you have to live too people. To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life move’s pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.”

05.06.08 | Pay Yourself First

Posted in Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

Monopoly

What do you consider your most important bill each month; mortgage, automobile, cell phone? We all have mountains of bills to pay, but the most important bill you will ever pay is the one to yourself. My Dad taught me that a long time ago. I want you to stay ahead in the game of life which is why I am passing this wisdom along to you. Those other bills are certainly important, but not as important as number one.

Think of life like a game of Monopoly. Sometimes you land on Go and collect that $200 while other times you get sent directly to jail (and no one looks good in pinstripes). And think about it, if you get sent to jail you can’t take that ride on Reading Railroad, visit St. Charles Place, or advance to Boardwalk. You’d be relegated to a passenger in the game of life – no fun!

My suggestion is to set an account aside and put money in each week or each month as you deem fit. You are far more important than any other bill that comes your way. No one is going to do this for you. You need to take action to make this happen. Remember, it’s not the denomination that is the important thing here, so don’t get discouraged by that, it’s the act and mindset behind it. As you get older you may be able to contribute more, but for now just start with a $1.

We are always going to owe money to someone, that’s just life, but owing money to yourself is an investment in you. Everyone else can take a number and get in line.

Follow my simple but rich advice and you can’t go wrong. In fact, I’ll even save you at seat at the Boardwalk Cafe. The view is breathtaking.

04.22.08 | ~ Free Money – Scholarship Style ~

Posted in Scholarships by Student Loan Network Staff

HELP WANTED 3

HELP WANTED!

Are you a struggling student trying to make ends meet? Do you need money for school? Would you like the opportunity to win a $1,000 scholarship per month and a $10,000 scholarship in October no strings attached??? If you meet this needy criteria you’re search is over. We are the perfect fit for you.

The perfect candidate will also enjoy sleeping late, going to parties, playing video games, exercising their mind, and most importantly receiving free money!

Guaranteed: Someone is going to walk away with $1,000 per month and $10,000 in October just for signing up. Sign up takes all of thirty seconds. I wish I knew about this site when I was going to school.

How to register: go to www.scholarshippoints.com click on Login/Register. That’s it.

Now here is the coolest part. You can accrue points like a lottery to increase your chances of winning the monthly scholarship awards! You can take surveys, post blogs, do a scavenger hunt on the website; the list goes on and on. You can also elect to do none of the above and just register once and be done with it. It’s completely up to you.

We all want something for nothing, and some of us will get it.  Will you be one of them?

04.17.08 | Personal Portfolio

Posted in Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

money

Portfolio Recommendations for you.

I’m bringing sexy back! Below is what I refer to as my Sexy Six. These are the six items/accounts you simply must have in today’s money hungry world.

1. Checking account: Good for paying bills, setting up direct deposits from your work, paypal accounts, etc.

2. Debit Card: Perfect for emergency situations. Just be mindful of fees. Most don’t charge if you go to one of their ATM machines, but most others do charge a minimal service fee.

3. One major credit card: Good for online purchases, renting a car, and other conveniences. Not to mention it helps build credit!

4. Interest bearing Savings account: Especially for students. It’s good to have a second account (separate from a checking) where you can save money. Hence the title – savings account.

5. 529 Account: Ideal if you are a parent saving money for your child’s college education. Has many tax benefits and allows you to stay in control of how the funds are disbursed.

6. IRA / 401K account: One of the best ways to save money for your future. These range greatly. Having a diversified portfolio is key.

Did I miss something you feel is a MUST? Leave a comment and let me know!

04.04.08 | Financial Organization 101

Posted in Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

Financial Freedom

Six things you need to know to help keep your financial affairs in order!

1. Three ring binder: You should have a place to house your check book, savings account, car payment vouchers, pay stubs, address labels, stamps, etc. Disorganization leads to untimely payments, late fees, and a lower credit score. Get your financial bible together.

2. Inserts / Folders: It’s important to keep your paperwork compartmentalized. If you have everything located in one folder you’re more apt to overlook something. Break it down in a clear concise way that makes sense to you.

3. Calculator: Avoid making simple arithmetic errors. You can even get one of those ultra cool paper thin calculators that can click right into your three ring binder.

4. Make a date: Set aside 10-15 minutes per week to review the new bills that rolled in for the month and send them off if you can. Sometimes you may need to wait an extra week if you are paid biweekly, but it is still good to keep weekly tabs regardless.

5. Emergency envelope: Place $50.00 in an envelope for emergency situations. And no, that ice cream fix on a Saturday night does not constitute an emergency.

6. Budget Lists: These are good for all occasions. It’s never too early to begin saving. You can even start your holiday savings now! If you toss $10 a week to the side you’ll have $400 for Christmas presents. $10 per week is a much easier bill to swallow than a large credit card bill in January which is accruing interest. By then you are just waiting for your tax refund check to pay it back.

Get off on the right foot and get organized now.  The more time you let slip by without having an organizational strategy the more problems you open yourself up to.  Affairs can be dangerous, but financial affairs don’t have to be.

04.02.08 | Time is Money

Posted in Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

time

Years ago I received an interesting email comparing time with money that I was enchanted by. It stated we are permitted to make withdrawals from our fictional time bank, but unlike an actual bank, we are unable to make deposits. So “spend” your time wisely was the underlying theme.

I think we can all agree that time and money walk hand and hand like Jack n’ Jill. We all want more of both. Of course to get more we usually need to sacrifice one for the other. This is the conundrum we all face. We look to maximize our opportunity cost. A good friend of mine is juggling this time/money paradox right now.

She’s enrolled in school and going for her BA. She is attending school at nights and has a full-time 9-5 job. The debate she is having with herself is, “Will this really pay off in the end?” Maybe I should just pick up a second job and work more now instead of taking these classes.

This is not an open/shut case. It’s easy for someone to stand on their perch and tell you to go to school. They are not looking at your monthly expenses. Has it been proven that a college education corresponds to higher paying jobs? Yes. Companies want to see that you have a few marbles upstairs so that BA serves as their screening process. Many won’t even call you in for an interview without it. But what is good for the goose may not always be good for the gander. I’m not exactly sure what that means but I’ve always wanted to use it in a sentence (note to self – cross that off my life’s to-do list).

When making your decision you need to consider a few things.

1. What is your earnings potential after graduation?

2. What is the cost difference of paying for school vs. working a second job?

3. What is the demand for workers in your field?

4. What is the projected long-term financial impact on your decision?

Choosing a second job over school: In the short-run you will be better off monetarily speaking, but in the long run that may not pay the dividends you are looking for. Let’s break it down.

Let’s say you’re making $40,000 per year right now without your BA ($30,000 / 40hrs per week and a second job earning $10,000 / 20hrs per week).

Now let’s say you get your BA in four years and that allows you to make $48,000 per year. Would you take that deal?

You basically would be accepting 4 years of losses for a larger pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

4-year Cost Difference

$40,000 x 4 years

$160,000

$30,000 x 4 years

$120,000 (plus student loans you may have accrued, say $20,000

It would take 7.5 years to get back the $60,000 in loses you initially sustained, but then it would be all gravy after that – the homemade kind too, like Grandma used to make.

Time It Takes to Make Up Lost Earnings

$48,000 x 7.5

$360,000

$40,000 x 7.5

$300,000

Now this scenario is very basic. I didn’t account for the interest accrued on the student loans nor did I account for you climbing that corporate latter with your BA – this is just basic math 101.

Perhaps the BIGGEST thing however is the extra hours you need to work to keep up that $40,000 earnings pace. 60 hours per week vs. 40 is huge! Think of everything you will be missing out on. You can’t put a price on time my friends. Just ask MasterCard; they love their Priceless campaign.

I do realize that spending your time wisely is a subjective art. How I elect to spend my personal time may be different than how you would spend yours. This country song I heard one time had a great line. It said, “Have you ever seen a headstone with these words, if only I had spent more time at work.” Spend that time wisely. We are only here for a little while.