Friday, January 13, 2006

Financial advice for my collegiate brethren-

Why Students Should Start Saving Now

We save, basically, because we can't predict the future. If we could, we would know precisely how much money we would need for the things that we want and need in the future. But because we can't do this, the need to save money for the future is vital.

Think about these few reasons why:

Emergency cushion - This could be any number of things: a new roof for the house, out-of-pocket medical expenses, or a job layoff and sudden loss of income. You'll need money set aside for these emergencies to avoid going into debt to pay for what you need.

Retirement - If you intend to retire someday, you'll probably need savings and/or investments to take the place of the income you'll no longer get from your job.

Average Life Expectancy - With more advances in medicine and public health, people are now living longer (and needing more money to get by).

Volatility of Social Security - Social Security was never intended to be the primary source of income and should be treated as a supplement to income.

Education - The costs for private and public education are rising every year, and it's getting tougher to meet these demands.

Without money put away in savings and/or investments, you may open yourself up to other risks as well. For example, not having enough money to pay for emergency dental care may force you into taking a loan that your savings might otherwise have covered.

Source: InCharge Institute of America
11 Ways to Save Money
By Elizabeth Hart, Virginia Tech

Is there really such thing as a "quick buck?" By following subtle tricks of the money trade, the easiest money is to be made - by learning how to keep it. Below is a compilation of the 11 simplest yet most overlooked ways to quickly salvage and sustain your bank balance in the midst of a collegiate atmosphere.

Play your cards. IDs in your wallet might save you if you know what to look for - student, military, and insurance IDs, AAA cards, or organization memberships are subject for certain discounts. Research benefits and ask businesses which are honored—especially with bookstores, travel/tourism, restaurants or retail chains. "Bonus" cards for grocery and drug stores also offer large savings worth checking out.

Be an employed customer. Where do you purchase the most items? By working where you tend to buy (for example, match your seasonal employment with where you holiday shop most), you ensure your benefit from employee discounts for items you were bound to purchase.

Comparison shop the easy way. The website lists weekly prices, promotions and rebates of electronics at stores near you - and saves you time, gasoline costs and hours of paging through newspaper ads.

Turn talents into cash. A student mass-emailed offers to modulate Xboxes for a fee, working from his room. Whether you tutor differential equations, teach basic guitar or knit scarves, you can easily publicize what you have to offer with online networking.
Seek opportunities. Submit a résumé to a temporary job agency as a back up in case of unemployment. Agencies may help you find day-long/short-term job opportunities to counter downtime with networking, experience and new companies (which will build your résumé as well.)

Go all out, not without. Is there a way that a broader scope can take care of your needs as well as others with the same interests? Many university-implemented groups have designated money for productive student spending. Holiday room decorations were not in my budget, but instead of going without, I organized a decorating program for my dorm's residents. Our residence hall government funded the program, enabling us all to save on decorations and enjoy a larger result.

Clean out the couch. Take random coins from piggy banks and catch-alls to change-converting machines like Coinstar (often found at food stores) make for an easy way to turn loose money into bills. Some banks honor rolled coins or have fee-free machines of their own.

Save and then splurge. While eating fast food 18 times might seem better than eating once at a fancy restaurant for the same cost, don't forget the risk of depreciating your earnings little by little with only mediocrity to show in the end. Save and splurge--at least once--in order to afford things like a great travel experience, college tuition, a nice business suit, or a seemingly unaffordable want. Sacrificing little luxuries (like movie rentals and frappachinos) for a few months in exchange for a worthy product proves college students CAN live luxuriously - just with an even trade.

Discover a new stock tip. Buy large amounts at once when you know you'll want more. Order magazines through a subscription to avoid "off the rack" prices. Stock up "regulars" (i.e., printer paper, frozen waffles, laundry detergent) at bulk stores with better values. Purchase extras of items to spare refill trips.

Be prepared to gift-give. The need for impromptu gifts is inevitable--preparation will save you from overspending during empty-handed panic. For example, if you stocked 10 decorated ceramic plates, some matching ribbon, and cookie mix, you'd have quick hostess gifts or thank you presents for 10 occasions ready to go. Generic gifts on sale work best. If you make good cookies or use ideal "formula gifts," new recipients won't complain about the repetition; they'll hope for it.

Get on the go. Staying busy distracts us from feeling the need to spend. The more involved you are, the less likely you are to steer towards boredom expenses (snack foods, excess movie tickets, video game rentals, etc.) Active organizations like clubs, mentoring, business fraternities, or intramural sports allow less time to think about purchases needed for extra entertainment… and an active résumé may help you obtain a higher-paying job - another step towards financial stability that was seemingly effortless, too.

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