12 Money-Management Tips For College Students

By Lucy Lazarony • Bankrate.com

Don’t toss that final suitcase in the SUV and start the drive to college just yet. Here are a dozen tips to help you manage your money so the last two months of the semester aren’t spent munching stale potato chips in the dorm room or scanning the sidewalks for dropped change.

1. Track it
Track your spending for two to four weeks to find out where your money is going. Are four trips to Starbucks a week really necessary?

“They don’t realize how much they spend on little things,” says Vickie Hampton, a financial planner and an associate professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbuck, Texas. “That’s the most common revelation.”

Mark Oleson, director of a financial counseling clinic at Iowa State University, adds, “Usually, just by tracking expenses, you’ll start to curb expenses.”

2. Get a plan
The best way to manage your money over the course of a semester is to sit down and map out a budget. List sources of income such as scholarships, loans, money from summer jobs and cash from your parents as well as expenses, such as tuition, books and groceries.

3. Good time money
If you know you need to buy a new CD or go to concert or a party every week, make room for that in your budget.

“You need some entertainment,” Hampton says. “A student is going to get really burned out if you don’t do anything fun.”

4. Pace yourself
If you spend, spend, spend at the beginning of the semester, you could be tapped out later. Give yourself a spending limit for each week. Stick to it and you won’t have to eat macaroni-and-cheese every day in December.

5. Go easy with the credit cards
“One quick way to spend beyond your means is to charge it,” says Mallary Tytel, president of Healthy Workplaces.

Use credit cards sparingly. Once you get into the habit of reaching for a Visa, it can be hard to stop.

“I saw a student pick up a bag of chips and charge it,” Tytel says.

Who wants to pay interest on a bag of Doritos?

6. Set your own credit line
“Just because you have a credit card with a $2,000 credit line doesn’t mean you have to spend $2,000,” DiSpirito says. “If you know you can only pay back $500, then just spend that.”

Afraid you’ll spend as long as there’s room on the card? Call your credit card company and request your credit limit be lowered. Keep at it. Card companies will try boost up your credit lines so you spend more. Tell them “no” each time they try.

7. Get real
You can do what you want, but you can’t do everything you want. You’re going to have to make some choices. Whatever you choose is going to cost some money. Be realistic.

“You need to understand you can’t have everything and you have to understand there are consequences,” Tytel says. “At some point there needs to be a reality check in terms of what things cost. Most kids have no idea.”

8. Stuff happens
If you bust your budget on something you really, really want to do this week, make up for it next week.

If you find that you must go out to dinner and a movie one week, spend the money; be satifisfied with the decision, and commit to staying home, eating at home and not making any other purchases the following week.

9. Look ahead
Whether it’s a road trip with friends or an auto insurance bill, if you know a big expense is coming, start putting some money aside to pay for it.

“It’s a lot easier to set aside $50 every month than to come up with $300 when the bill is due,” Oleson says.

10. Get in touch with your roomie
Contact your roommate before the semester starts and divvy up expenses. Chat about who will bring a refrigerator and who will bring a microwave.

This way you avoid duplicating purchases and excess spending, but will still have all the conveniences to make college life easier.

11. Spread it out
“Most of the big expenses are at the beginning of the school year,” Tytel says. “Buy books as you need them. That will spread out expenses.”

Don’t forget to check out prices from online bookstores. They may give you a better deal than the campus bookstore. Buy used books whenever possible.

12. Ask for help when you need it
“It’s very difficult to say ‘I’m in trouble and I need $2,000′ or ‘I spent my student loan money,’ ” Tytel says.

Screw up some courage and phone home. The longer you put it off, the worse things get.

5 Smart Tips To Manage Money With Your Honey

Jean Chatzky’s advice to help couples avoid fighting over financial issues

One of the hardest parts of a marriage or any other type of long-term relationship is managing the money: The guilt or worry that comes with spending money that’s no longer “yours,” but “ours”; the questions about why this month’s Visa bill is sky-high; and the resentment you feel when your partner comes home with a new outfit that was paid for, in part, by your paycheck.

So what do you do when your partner is a spender and you’re a saver? When your spouse’s idea of a long-term goal is saving for next summer’s vacation, not the kids’ college tuition? Or when you make the maximum contribution to your 401(k) and still toss and turn at night worrying about your retirement, while your partner sleeps soundly without a retirement plan at all?

It’s a sticky situation, no doubt about it. That’s why “The Big Payoff: 8 Steps Couples Can Take to Make the Most of Their Money — and Live Richly Ever After,” (Collins) a new book by Sharon Epperson, a CNBC correspondent, really hit home with me.

“Payoff” examines key financial points you and your partner need to be in agreement on:

Keep separate accounts
There are more than a few benefits of a three-pot system, in which you each have an account and then share a house account for joint expenses, but mainly it helps eliminate feelings of guilt and resentment. It also lets you each have a hand in the daily finances. And, if the relationship takes a turn for the worst, you each have money in your own name.

Setting up a system like this is simple: Agree to deposit a certain amount (if your salaries are comparable) or percentage (if one partner makes a good deal more) into the shared account each pay period. The rest goes into your individual accounts.

Set a budget, together
As a couple, you have to get your priorities in line. Epperson and her husband sat down and agreed on what percentage of their income would go toward the things that are important to them. Her advice? Make sure you’re divvying up money that you can actually spend.

“I think the hardest part is for people to realize that your budget is not to be based on your full paycheck. It should be calculated after you’ve already taken money out for your savings,” says Epperson. Determine what your take-home pay is each month, then subtract about 10 percent for contributions toward savings. That leaves you with money you can throw toward things like transportation, debt, and mortgage or rent payments.

Plan
Major steps like buying a house, having children and retiring all play out better when you’ve taken the time to plan for them in advance.

“What I think is so important is to sit back and plan so you can lead your life a little more calmly,” explains Epperson. “When you have a game plan, you have a cushion, and with that comes a lot of peace of mind.” Talk about both your short-term goals (like that summer vacation), and your long-term goals (like retirement), and make sure you both have a similar picture of the future. And don’t forget to put some “just in case” money in a savings account that you can access in a pinch. There are some things, like layoffs or injuries, that just can’t be planned for.

Live within your means
It might sound simple, but I don’t just mean freezing the charge card in a block of ice. It’s easy to get in over your head, especially when it comes to housing.

If you’re ready to buy, and you’ve run all the numbers, go back over them and see if you’re missing anything. Did you account for lawn care? Taxes? The cost of living in that area? People too often forget to run this side of the equation, and end up struggling to meet the expenses that come with home ownership. The stress of this can put a real strain on any marriage. If you have to make sacrifices to make ends meet, be sure both partners are on board.

Talk about it
You can easily eliminate the problem of an insanely high credit card bill or an embarrassing bounced check by keeping each other informed of major expenditures.
It’s up to you to define “major,” but don’t let problems fester until it’s too late. If you’re angry about something, no matter how trivial, hash it out — but do it calmly. If that’s a goal deemed unachievable, enlist the help of a financial planner or adviser. Epperson and her husband did.

“One of the things that came out of that meeting was real goals. Our goals were really just immediate, and having an initial meeting forced us to start talking,” she explains. A good adviser will offer an initial consultation for free, so you can go in, lay out the facts of your situation, and find out how he or she can help before you have to pay up.

7 Tips To Manage Your Money Better

Cash flow is the fuel that keeps a business running smoothly. To make sure your company isn’t running on empty, check your current practices against these techniques used by the top money managers.

1. Create a cash flow budget.
A cash flow budget helps to ensure that you can comfortably pay all your expenses and enables you to manage your revenues and expenses proactively.

Key components include a sales/revenue forecast; anticipated inflows, such as accounts receivable; anticipated outflows, such as cost of goods sold; debt repayments; and operating expenses.

It’s important to keep your cash flow budget up-to-date and to make sure that it reflects changes in your operating environment and your plans for your business.

2. Know the sensitivities in your cash flow.
It’s important to pin down which items – such as price, volume, or overheads – will have the most impact on your cash flow.
Cost of goods sold, for example, has a significant impact on your cash flow, yet is difficult for you to change. At the same time, competitive pressures may prevent you from increasing prices.
Cash flow is also affected by inventory days and accounts receivable days.

3. Manage the credit you are extending to your customers.
There are a number of different ways to improve how you manage your receivables.
Establishing effective credit policies is an important part of successful cash flow management.
You might also think about how you can encourage clients to pay more quickly. For example, consider discounts for early payments, or charge interest on accounts that are past due.

While interest and late charges may actually become a source of income for your business, it’s important to apply some due diligence. Extremely late payments are more likely to become write-offs and will also keep some of your working capital tied up.

4. Keep your payables up-to-date.
Regularly reviewing your accounts payable schedule helps determine how well you are keeping up with your credit obligations.
A useful practice is to have an “aging schedule,” which shows you how much you owe, to whom, and whether you are current or past due on any bills.

5. Reduce expenses.
Look for ways to cut back: for example, can the cost of promotional materials (such as printing or production) be reduced without compromising their quality and impact?
When business volume steps up, bring in temporary, contract, or part-time help before committing to additional full-time staff.
An independent audit may reveal redundancies and inefficiencies that you can address.

6. Use credit effectively.
The best credit facility will depend on your company’s individual circumstances, business plans, and existing credit facilities.

For example, term loans are ideal for long-term capital purchases, while lines of credit can be used to meet short-term working capital requirements or to take advantage of unexpected business opportunities.

7. Put your company’s surplus cash flow to work.
Assess how much money you need to set aside for emergencies.
To do this, review your company’s cash flow history for any patterns.
As well, consider how potential changes in the economy, such as currency or interest rate fluctuations, could affect your revenues or expenses.

Any surplus in your cash flow can be used for business expansion, to pay off debts, or to maintain a certain level of working capital.

Tips To More Effectively Manage Money For Students

By: Jeremy Housewright

While college students are often criticized for their careless spending, most students generally do a better job managing money than they are given credit for.

A typical college student may have a college loan, a checking account, a savings account, a credit card, an ATM card, a debit card, a pre-paid phone card and a valuable student identification card.

It is easy for many college students to mess their finances up, considering most students are new at paying bills and managing expenses. However, 3 out of 5 college students manage to pay credit cards monthly, according to the Student Monitor survey. Most college students also work at a part-time job during the school year.

The Student Monitor survey also found that only 30 percent of college students like to by things on sale and most admit to buying on impulse.

“If I want something, like a CD or DVD, I’m going to buy it right away,” sophomore Chad Mueller said.

There are some easy tips that will help college students better manage their money.

Have only one credit card. More than one card just gives students the opportunity to get into more debt. Parents need to remind their children that credit cards are for convienence and emergency, not a loan.

College students need to learn to balance their checkbooks. The habit of writing a withdrawal down immediately is good.

Students should keep better track of spending. According to Student Monitor survey, the average student spends $200 a month on casual items, such as clothing and movies.

Sharing items will also save money. Try to share or trade clothing with friends. Selling back textbooks is also a good way to save money. For those who live in an apartment, sharing a vaccum cleaner or a grill is an easy way to save.

Investing is the ultimate way for a college student to preserve money. If a 20-year old manages to put money away in stock or mutual funds, their finances will look great in 10 years.