Staying on Top of Your Finances While You’re Young!

This post is sponsored by Regions Bank.
When you’re in college, or your early twenties, you may not be thinking about your finances. Maybe you’re still on your family’s insurance plan, you’re paying half rent because you have a roommate, you don’t have student loan payments yet, or you’re still driving your paid off car from high school. Money isn’t an issue yet. When money isn’t an issue, we don’t look at the big picture.

What happens when you’re twenty-five and you have to pay for your own health insurance, rent, water, electricity, internet, renters insurance, dental & eye insurance, car payment, car insurance, car registrations, gym memberships, credit card bills, student loans, taxes, groceries, gas? And the list goes on. You start to wish you would have saved more money during your earlier years instead of blowing it on silly things like clothes, late night fast food trips, parties, salons, Starbucks lattes, or piling up your student debt.

There are so many things I wish I would have done differently. I’ve been taking huge steps this past year to make sure I’m financially setup for life. I’m partnering up with Regions Bank today to bring an awareness of your finances during the college and young adult years. A lot of my readers are still in school, finishing up with school, or about to head off to college. I figured this partnership was a great fit and hopefully you can learn a little. It’s a fun to change up the theme of my blog and this is a very important topic to focus on. I see a lot of my friends struggle with student load payments and I don’t want that to happen to you. These are also tips you can use for the rest of your life. picmonkey-collage-4When I turned eighteen, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I took my parent’s advice and decided to live at home and go to a community college. This saved me thousands of dollars in student loans. Going to acting school in New York City or fashion school in L.A. sounded like a blast, but staying home and going to a community college gave me time to think about where I wanted to be in life, and it saved me from spending tons of money on student loans today. Even though I saved money, I still wish I would have done things differently.

I’m twenty-five and have been on my own insurance for the past five years, I pay my monthly car payment, I live alone with a not-so-fun rent payment, pay for dental and eye care, gas, groceries, my dog’s expenses, internet, renters insurance, car insurance, electricity, water, blog hosting fees (surprisingly high), taxes, and the list goes on. There are so many unnecessary expenses I have cut or decreased in the past year that have really made a difference. I strongly dislike the word “BUDGET.” But, that word is going to be your best friend in your twenties. Some of the wealthiest people in the world stick to a budget and that is why they are so successful. I’m nowhere near perfect when it comes to being smart with finances, but being independent and self aware makes me feel very secure and financially confident about my future. I’ll be the first to admit that I LOVE to have fun with my money, but I make sure to be smart with it too.

Even though your expenses may be your last worry in college, start practicing a budget immediately. Building a budget is super easy. Just calculate your monthly expenses and your monthly income. Save most of what you have left and give yourself a spending budget with the rest. It’s really THAT simple. You don’t have to cut out all fun just because you have a budget, but you should limit your unnecessary spending. EX: Instead of going to get a latte every day, go twice a week. Once you start to pay attention to the unnecessary spending, it opens your eyes and you start to think twice before splurging. I agree with so many of the tips from “Saving Money While In College” provided by Regions Bank. I also have a few tips to add myself!76408_145578352155416_5591078_n-3*Take advantage of everything your school offers: Use the school’s gym, eat school meals, join free school activities instead of spending money at the movies or mall. I was apart of theater and spent almost every night at rehearsals. One thing you may not want to consider that your school offers is the bookstore. Try to avoid it! Find out what book your professor requires and look for it online! You can find used books 70% off and sometimes free. Don’t buy your supplies there. Sometimes you’ll pay anything just to have a mechanical pencil for class, and they know that, so they mark up the prices (colleges, you know it’s true.) Make sure you stock up on all your supplies OFF campus. If you don’t want to leave campus, shop online. Once your class is finished, sell your book, and put the money earned into a savings account.

*Get a roommate: Living alone is wonderful and I love my privacy, but if I had a roommate, I’d save $700 a month! I might actually think about getting a roommate just to save extra money each month. If you’re living off campus, get a roommate who you can split all your bills with. If you have an off campus apartment, consider meal prepping and using coupons to grocery shop instead of buying food elsewhere. Oh, and never grocery shop hungry! Try to carpool with your roommate or find a place walking distance to your campus. And if you’re a coffee drinker…GET A COFFEE MAKER, otherwise you’ll need to take out an extra student loan for you morning brew. 71653_14380296w8999621_475993_nGet a job on campus: When my mom worked at the college in Iowa, she had tons of student aids working for her. They’d come in between classes and work. This is great for making extra money while staying on campus! Saves you gas, doesn’t interfere with your studies, and it’s extra money in your pocket! You can get a job in the fields you’re studying too. Regions Bank recommends putting 10-20 percent of your paychecks directly into a savings account. They even have automated transfers that will do it for you each month, or however you’d like to set it up. I know that extra 10-20 percent would be fun to spend, but it’s better to have it later in life than spent on some clothes you’ll never wear (or fit into) again. There are other fun activities you can do for extra money. Do what I did and start a blog or sell baked goods! Sell some photography, tutor young kids, coach sports, babysit, sell your clothing to consignment shops, or start a small business! I also found a way to travel and work in college by going away to a camp each summer in the Hamptons. That was the life!

Regions Bank posted an article called “10 Money Tips College Grads Wish They’d Known.

On credit cards: The article states, “Get one credit card that you will stick with for several years, maybe even 10 years. Having a line of credit that had been open for more than 10 years is what made my credit rating awesome enough to afford my first home.” — Janine G., Boston University

*I see Janine G.’s point on the credit card, but young adults and credit cards can be scary. I know you want to be independent and make decisions for yourself, but don’t get a credit card unless you trust your own control. I recommend getting a card with a low credit limit. Don’t let yourself spend more than you can afford on credit. Make sure you pay it off every month. I made sure to have my dad monitor my spending. I knew that if he was watching, I’d be more mindful as to what I was buying. Oh, and my dad never failed to let me know I was spending way too much. He still does it to this day!

I think it’s very helpful and very important for college students (any age) to read. A lot of articles are directed at young college students, but college students range from all ages. You’re NEVER too old to go back to school. My mom actually got her degree when she was 47! You go girl!

Student loans: It’s great to spend all the money that isn’t yours yet, but don’t forget that you have to pay EVERYTHING + MORE back. Ever heard of interest? Only take out what you need, don’t get student loans without doing your research and try to get as many scholarships as you can. There are scholarships for everything nowadays. Debt doesn’t sound so bad until you’ve graduated and are left with tons of payments. And for the love of your pocket, go to class, and do not fail! If you fail, you’ll be paying for that “F” on your transcript. The only way to get rid of that “F” is to take the class over for more money. Just do it right the first time. Paying for a class twice can -cost just as much as your vacation to the islands.

Take a personal finance class. Not only will you get college credits for this, but you’ll learn a lot more about the importance of finances and how to keep your spending under control. It’s smart and sometimes crucial to build your savings right away. 264264_206582876054963_5697840_nCollege doesn’t always have to be about saving money and your studies. If you save money, have a job and take advantage of what is given to you (while you still can), you can afford to do fun things. A budget will help you save, pay your expenses, and give you FUN money. Boy do I LOVE fun money.

It’s fun to travel while you’re in college, and there are so many ways you can do it without breaking the bank. You deserve to have fun and let loose, but do it wisely! Regions Bank has a great article filled with “Low-Budget College Vacation Ideas” that are fun and will save you money.

There is nothing better than getting a group of your friends together for a camping trip. You just need a tent, split the groceries, start a fire and just spend time under the stars with your best friends. You can also go kayaking and hiking on your camping trip.

Find cool places that aren’t too far away and take a weekend road trip with your friends. Split gas, groceries and hotel rooms! Sometimes visiting your college friend’s hometown is fun. There are also hostels that are cheap to stay at and it’s such a cool experience. There are several neat websites that you can sign up for that allow you to house-sit around the world for free. If you can, study abroad! You’ll be studying, scoring credits and traveling while you’re young!

College is a fun experience, but sometimes we forget to look at the big picture. I love that Regions Bank is making a point to open up the eyes of young adults, so they can set themselves up for a financially secure future! They have so many great articles on their website that offer advice for everyone interested in learning about their finances.

Questions for You:

  1. Is there anything you’d wish you would have done different (financially) in college?
  2. What is your best tip for saving money in college?
  3. Were you careless or careful with your money in college?

Comments

  • Paula

    Great tips! Wanted to ask if you are still taking classes and how you balancing work and school?

    Reply to Paula
  • Melissa

    Great advice for young ones (and some not so young ones lol) trying to figure out adulthood!
    I think I was relatively good with my money in college, I’ve always been one to save but I definitely didn’t pay as much attention as I could have and did things like buy a snazzy new computer and clothes when maybe I didn’t really need it.
    The tip I would give something is to set yourself a monthly budget and STICK to it. Students loans just throw you this wad of cash and you see it in your bank account and it seems to justify every impulse lol. If you figure out what your must have expenses are (rent, food etc) and then give yourself a reasonable “Fun” budget each month its at least a place to start and keep track of how much you’re spending.

    Reply to Melissa
  • Autumn

    1. one of my biggest mistakes with money in college was that i would blow my financial aid refunds. every semester i would get a refund between $500 and $1500 and i was completely irresponsible with it! i couldn’t believe how fast i spent it. and now that i’m 25, i always think about what i could have done with that money if i would have saved it.
    2. my best money saving tip for college is to pack your lunch. buying food on campus can get expensive. also, make coffee at home and take it with you. my campus has a coffee shop and going there once, sometimes twice, a day really adds up!
    3. from my answers to the last 2 questions it’s pretty easy to see that i was definitely careless with my money in college. for me, it’s been a learned part of daily life.

    Reply to Autumn
  • Jenn

    College was a tough time for me financially because I had to pay for it myself with no help from my parents. I had to watch my spending because I knew I had a big bill to pay each semester and I had to save up all semester to be able to afford it. I chose to attend a state school because it cost me a fraction of the price of a private school. At the time I was a little bitter that my parents weren’t paying for me to go to school like so many others were, but it taught me how to limit my spending and save. I had a roommate whose parents were paying for her education so she spent money like it was nothing and I was so jealous at the time, but as adults in our mid-20s I am so thankful that I learned about saving and spending wisely because she still spends frivolously and has no savings even though her parents no longer support her.

    One thing that I did while in college to help me save was have one of the paychecks go straight into my savings account so I never saw or was tempted to spend the money. I had 2 jobs while in college- a work study job at my college and a retail job back at home that i worked at on the weekends that I was home and during vacations. My work study job was just a few hours a week and that was my spending money. The money I earned from my job back at home went directly into my savings to be saved for my next semesters tuition bill.

    Reply to Jenn
  • Katie

    I will make sure to follow these tips. Thank you for the post Taralynn!

    Reply to Katie
  • Brittany M.

    Hi Taralynn,

    I think financially I did well for undergraduate. I had HOPE scholarship and I was awarded another scholarship by the hospital I was going to work for. Now that I’m in grad school I wish I would have earned more scholarship money.

    I think it’s important to have a budget. I also think while people “mindlessly” eat, some people “mindlessly” spend. I’m guilty of spending unnecessary money on Starbucks. I’ve been looking for some copycat recipes to help me stop. It’s just so convenient especially the app.

    I go through phases of careful and careless. I think I’ve been a little more careless in grad school but I’m getting back on track now. I have a budget and twice a week I go through transactions to see what miscellaneous spending is going towards. Thanks for your post!

    Reply to Brittany M.
  • Jen H.

    This blog post hit close to home for me. I just finished grad school (YAY!) and now I’m faced with almost 100,000$$$ of STUDENT LOANS! Holy smokes 🙁

    1. I wish I had gone to a community college for two years first. I do. Every single day. I went to IOWA (go hawkeyes) and had a blast butttt now I’m paying for it. LITERALLY!

    2. My advice to save $$$ in college is to take advantage of the free stuff on college campuses!! I swear every week there is FREE food somewhere, free stuff, free free free. JUST DO IT!!! It’s worth it….and sometimes it’s okay to stick an extra granola bar, or apple, or whatever free food they are giving away in your purse.

    3. I was careful. I worked at a daycare and that was the only money I had for groceries, rent, and basically everything else. It’s important to budget or you will end up with $5 dollars left at the end of the week for all of your groceries….I would know first hand lol!!!

    Reply to Jen H.
  • Jamie

    I wish that I had worked more so that I wouldn’t have as much debt. I feel like I’m drowning in it, especially living in such an expensive state (CA).

    I used to (and still do!) cook large meals and then eat them for the rest of the week or save them for later. It doesn’t cost much to make a lot more food, but it DOES cost a lot to make several different recipes throughout the week.

    I’ve had my ups and downs. Thankfully at 26 I’m being a lot smarter than I used to, but I wish that I had saved more instead of spent!

    Reply to Jamie
  • Brooklyn

    I loved this post!
    I was always so careful (or so I thought) with my money in university, but now that I moved to Vancouver (a crazy expensive city) I am realizing how much more money I should have saved before moving here!

    I need to start budgeting more, that’s for sure.
    I love making spreadsheets for budgeting, it is so fun!

    http://www.justbeingbrooklyn.com

    Reply to Brooklyn
  • Jenn

    Best tip? Don’t get a credit card! I just had an on campus job during college which was my spendinc money for the week $45 and my summer job I used to spend a little and pay for my books. I didnt get a credit card until I graduated and had a full time job.

    Reply to Jenn
  • Olivia

    I really like this post! It’s so true that when your in college money doesn’t seem like a big deal until you start have all these financial responsibilities. I wish I had more financial advice when I was younger because I’m definitely still paying for it being out of college.
    If I could go back I definitely would of put more in savings and spent less on stuff I didn’t really need such as tons of clothes and shoes. Even just a small amount would have helped.
    My tip for saving in college would be to try not to go out to eat as much. I spent so much money on grabbing lunch on my work break or between classes. I wish I would of just packed an easy lunch from home, because it really does save you money.
    To be honest I was pretty careless with my money, thinking I’ll pay off that credit card next paycheck and then it wouldn’t happen. I didn’t think about saving much and loved having fun with my money which got me into some problems. I’ve definitely learned as I’ve gained more bills how to budget and how to balance fun money. But I guess that’s all just part of learning how to adult!

    Reply to Olivia
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks Olivia!

      I think many people feel the same way and would agree with you 100%

      Ive been and sometimes still am careless with my money. It’s something we learn to handle as we grow and learn! 🙂

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Desire

    Smart going to the community college.

    I made a mistake and went to an expensive UNI and goofed around. I finally finished up my degree at 28! All I can say is make sure you know what you want to do before studying. It’s ok to take time for yourself.

    Reply to Desire
  • Mary

    I really enjoyed reading this article. You look the exact same as you did when you were 19! I will forward this over to my nieces and daughter. I hope they take your advice on saving now.

    Tip from a mom- Make your children earn an allowance instead of giving them fun money!

    Reply to Mary
  • Mykel Morris

    LOVE this post, Taralynn! I feel like we don’t take nearly enough about finances, it’s always about what products to buy, or newest clothing… It’s so refreshing to read an article about budgeting. I learned a lot from this, thank you!

    Reply to Mykel Morris
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks Mykel!

      Glad you could learn from this:) I love spending and buying clothes, but it’s all about how you budget for those things!

      xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Katie

    Great Tips!

    I put everything on my credit card and then use the points for my fun stuff (travel flights, holiday shopping etc). However, this only works if you trust yourself with plastic (you still have to stick to a budget) AND you have to pay your card in full every month (which I do!).

    If you can’t be trusted with plastic, take out X amount of dollars each week and put Y amount in your savings. Make that X you took out your spending cash for the week. When its out, its out and you have to improvise.

    Katie @ Katie Wanders
    http://www.KatieWanders.com

    Reply to Katie
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks Katie!

      Yes. YOU HAVE to trust yourself and have good will power! Glad you pay it off every month!

      I love the cash idea! I do that on vacations!

      xo

      Taralynn

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Linda @ the Fitty

    I turn to buy groceries in bulk to save money! Hard to do with produce though.

    Reply to Linda @ the Fitty
  • Anonymous

    Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? He has some great budgeting tips!!

    Reply to Anonymous

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