College Money Advice
There are many ways you can save money while in college. During unpredictable economic times, it’s becoming more and more crucial keeping yourself financially out of water as you get closer to graduation. Many students are often leaving college with thousands of dollars of credit and student loan debt which can take years to payoff. It’s safe to assume that you don’t want to end up like that, right? Picking up good financial habits, plus being knowledgeable about beneficial programs can help you leave those college doors with little to no debt; making yourself an exception to the statistics. To help you with that dream, below are a few tips that’ll sure lead you in the right direction.
Find a Tax Credit
One way you can save money in college is by applying for a tax credit. A tax credit basically reduces the amount you need to pay to the government. If you’ve qualified for financial aid, yet could still use an extra boost, you might be able to claim a tax credit to lessen the financial strain college often carries. One tax credit is the American Opportunity Tax Credit. You could receive up to $2,500 per year from this credit toward college expenses and tuition if you make under $80,000 a year or $160,000 for a married couple. This is a temporary credit so be sure to check the IRS website for updated information.
Another credit is the Lifetime Learning Credit which can be used every year a student is in college. You can receive up to $2,000 per year yet is not refundable if the credit exceeds the amount you owe in taxes. You can only apply for one credit per year (either this or the American Opportunity Credit), and it’s for individuals who make less than $50,000 and married couples who make $100,000. There’s a phaseout range in which people who make more than this will still be able to receive the tax credit, but at a reduced amount. The benefits phaseout completely if you make $10,000 more than the minimum.
I know this may sound like extra work you don’t need to do, and with all the schoolwork you’ll have thrown at you it might seem a bit excessive, but budgeting is a good practice to learn. Thanks to technology, there are many software programs available that’ll help streamline your budget, keeping things clean and neat. No need doing it the old fashioned way with pens and paper and checkbooks strewn across the table. Many people nowadays have multiple accounts with many passwords and usernames that tracking each expenditure from various accounts would be maddening. Quicken is probably the most popular budgeting software out today. It doesn’t require a monthly charge like some software programs, and it does a pretty good job. Get all your financial information in one place, see which categories you spend the most on, and stay on track with your bills.
If you’re the type of student who scours couch cushions and car seats for change for the dollar menu, then you might be more interested in a free budgeting software that can be found online. A few sites to check out include Mint (which also has an app for iPad which you probably shouldn’t be owning if you’re having financial problems!), AceMoney Lite and Inzolo which uses the envelope budgeting system. These are all great services for personal finance.
Other Ways You Can Save Money
There are tons of money-saving habits that can go well beyond your college years. It’s all about disciplining yourself to be frugal with your money. When you’re at college you have to force yourself to live within your means. And if your parents are in the low-income category, you probably understand asking for money is most-likely out of the question. It’s good too be smart with your money and look for ways you can keep more change in your pocket. Here are a few things you can do while in college to save money, plus some that can be lifetime habits.
- Recycle cans and bottles
- Use coupons
- Buy books used or visit Amazon Student for free shipping
- Ride a bike or walk to classes
- Buy store-brand products as oppose to national-brand
- Wait for the movie to play at the cheap theater
- Be sure to ask for a student discount everywhere you shop!
- Try to do all you school shopping during back to school sales after summer vacation
Just using common sense and sticking to a budgeting plan can keep you from having to call home for some extra cash. And in addition to that it’ll improve how you handle money after college.
Times are Changing
Nowadays students are spending more and more time in college; what used to take four years to get a degree now is taking five, and the longer you’re at college the more expensive it becomes. Even with financial aid, money is still a big issue for students who are coming from low-income households. A New York Times article suggests that money is the plight of many low-income students, preventing them from graduating, so it is definitely important keeping your finances in check. Scholarships are, of course, other great ways you can keep from entering into debt. Easy Scholarships that don’t require much work and give you time to focus on other important things are music to anyone’s ears. This site is dedicated to such information so be sure to check often as more information is available.
Current U.S. Bills in Congress that Affect Financial Aid
Learn about what Congress is doing to impact your ability to afford college. You can check to see which bills you like or don’t like with the names of the elected officials behind each bill. Knowledge is power, so gaining an interest on activities on Capital Hill is the best way to attain that power.
Recommended College Finance Books
The numerous methods of saving money for college are, in fact, too numerous to be contained on this page (without being extremely lengthy). So in an effort to provide you with a comprehensive guide to affording higher-education, I enlist the help of award winning authors that are just gushing with sound financial advice. Browse the books contained in this page so you can be ready when it comes time to make the grand transition.
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