3 Money Management Tips for Grads
It's never too early to start squeezing the most out of your money, and as a grad, you're in a unique position because you basically have a clean slate and lots of years to reap the benefits.
So don't miss this opportunity to get started squeezing your money right away. To help, I have developed a series of tips you can use to get started and confidently take over the job as the boss of your money. Here are three tips you can use to get started squeezing the most out of your money today:
1. Develop a financial game plan. A financial plan is a roadmap or blueprint. It starts with an analysis of where you are and where you want to go and it ends with a sequence of action steps to bridge the gap between the two. And it's much like the plan you followed in school to get your degree. First you chose a major (a goal) and then you received a list of classes to take (steps to follow) to get your degree. The principle is the same except that you control the goals and the steps to follow, and you can change you mind at any time and head in a totally different direction. Believe it or not, the toughest part for most people is deciding where they want to go because there are so many choices. And if achieving wealth is one of your goals, get specific about what that means in dollars, then set a goal, and create a plan to get there. Following your plan will help you stay on track and spend your money in ways that move you closer to your goals. You can achieve most anything, but first you have to know where you want to go and have a strong motivating reason to get there.
2. Avoid debt like the plague. If you already have debt, create a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible. This is important because debt can take away so much of your current and future income and leave you with fewer choices. It can keep you stuck in jobs and relationships you don't like because you can't afford to make a change. So avoid it at all costs but if you're already in it, get out as quickly as possible. It really helps to throw as much money as you possibly can at your debt. Even consider a getting a part-time job to have more money to pay off your debts faster. It's that serious. For example, if you have a total of $25,000 in debt with an average interest rate of 12% (student loans and credit cards) and you make payments of $300 per month, it could take you 15 years to pay off the debt and that assumes that you do not add any additional debt. However, if you increase your payments to $500 a month, you can pay it off in less than six years and save a ton of interest (about $20,000).
3. Build an emergency fund. An emergency fund (EFund) is just that cash you have available in case of an emergency. An emergency could be anything from your car breaking down to losing you job and having to supplement your unemployment check. In either case, your EFund should consist of a few thousand dollars that you have available in a stable account such as high yield savings or a money market fund or account so it is available when you need it. To make building an EFund almost painless, set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking to your EFund account. Having an EFund will help you avoid turning to credit cards in an emergency and falling into one of the biggest traps of all - piling up credit card debt.
About the Author
Patricia Stallworth is the founder of PS Worth, a financial education and planning firm, and the author of the forthcoming book, Squeeze the Most Out of Your Money: A No-Nonsense Money Management System to Maximize Your Dollars and Minimize Your Money Stress. Want 7 more tips and strategies for grads?Get the complete Special Report: 10 Squeeze Your Money Tips for Grads at Contact Patricia at ps@ .
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