Categories
Investing

How Can a College Student Invest? Easy Tips

In my opinion college students are the best investors. They are constantly learning and not afraid to make mistakes. As you get a college education, you should be getting an education in building wealth. You don’t need tons of capital to start your investing journey: you just have to know how to do it.

This article will focus on the most popular option for college investors: online investing. If you are wondering how can a college student invest here are some tips to get you started.
If you want to get started investing the process is so much easier than you think. Great guide for beginners!

How Can a College Student Invest Starting with Stocks?

When you first start investing you will most likely want to start with stocks. The reason most first time investors start with stocks is that they are easy to relate to and they are widely discussed. You can start up a conversation about stocks with almost anyone and they should be able to voice at least an opinion. While some believe that there are certain best stocks for college students, I believe a general education on how to invest is important.

Establishing Your Online Investment Portfolio

According to financial experts, college investors have a significant advantage over other types of investors. They have time – lots of it. Considering the amazing powers of compound interest (i.e. a type of interest that earns additional interest), we can say that time IS money.

Experienced investors state that even a small amount of money, if invested properly, can reap huge profits in the future. That means you really have to think about building your personal investment portfolio while you are still in college.

Here are the things you have to do to jumpstart your career as an investor:

  1. If you are beginning with small capital (e.g. $25 to $50), find a broker that will accept the small account. Then, you can increase your overall capital by investing more money on a regular basis.
  1. You should calculate the total amount of money you are willing to risk. As a college investor, you have to keep in mind that investment always involves risk. Your personality and available funds are two of the most important factors that determine your "risk tolerance."
  1. If you like to take risks, the possibility of earning large profits probably outweighs your fears of losing money. If you are risk-averse, on the other hand, you have to perform serious calculations regarding the exact amount that you are willing to risk.
  1. There are savings vehicles that guarantee profits and offer minimal risks. Here are some examples: certificate of deposits, federal savings bonds, student savings accounts approved by the FDIC, etc. Yep, I'm talking about saving accounts, CDs and other bank saving products. In general, these financial instruments provide the best protection against risks. However, they also involve the lowest potential for getting large profits. If you will invest in these instruments, your earning potential will be severely limited.
  1. If you can shoulder more risk and invest your money for a longer time period, you may try investing your capital in mutual funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs). These funds are composed of various securities such as bonds, stocks and commodities. Mutual fund corporations collect and manage the money of other people for investment purposes. Since these corporations employ financial experts, lots of college investors opt to put their money in mutual funds or ETFs.
  1. Prior to investing your hard-earned money in these mutual funds, you have to perform your own background research. Some mutual fund companies focus on particular industries (e.g. pharmaceutical, telecommunications, banking, etc.) while others use diversified portfolios (i.e. they make investments in different industries). You should research about the past performance of the company you will be investing on and the industries they work with. Remember: The past performance can in no way guarantee future results.

How Can a College Student Invest in Stocks?

As a college investor, once you become familiar with how the financial market works, you can start to invest in individual bonds or stocks. You can do this through the help of online brokerage firms. Individual investments, as the name implies, require the investor to personally manage all of the securities that he/she owns.

This might sound a bit scary.

However, there are lots of tools that you can use to simplify your investment decisions.

Almost all online brokerage firms provide their clients with reliable tools to monitor their investments. These days, lots of investment companies offer free accounts and minimal balance requirements. That means you can start your personal investment portfolio today.

You may think that investing is difficult or that it is hard to get started. That is not the case. Beginning your investing journey is as easy as opening an investing account. I used to have a few accounts with different brokers because I liked them for different reasons. Now I just have a few ETFs and stocks.

For example, I can buy stocks with an Ally Invest account. But I also like them because I can invest automatically without choosing stocks; you can open an account here with no minimum.

Lesson 1: What is a Stock?

A stock or a share, is an ownership interest in a business. A publicly traded business will use stocks, also called equity, to raise capital. As a stockholder, you own a piece of a business. You have the right to vote on certain changes, and you should be involved in the process. Figuring out what stocks to choose is the tough part. I remember when I made my first investments. I bought stocks based on what reporters were discussing on tv. And I lost horribly. After a few years, I learned how to research stocks and invest with the markets, not against them. I was a college student investing with extra cash and I enjoyed the process.

Lesson 2: How to REALLY Trade Stocks

Once you’ve placed a few trades and are confident in your abilities, it’s time to put some muscle behind your trades. You can beat the stock market if you make the choice to research your trades and take the time to follow the markets carefully.

Lesson 2b: Technical Analysis vs. Fundamental Analysis

This is where you have to do your homework and it’s really not that hard. Fundamental analysis is looking at the story behind the price changes whereas technical analysis is looking at the previous price changes to determine a future.

4 Tips for College Students Who Want to Invest

The following tips are recommended by financial experts. You should consider these before or while investing your money in the markets.

  1. Learn as much as you can – You can acquire investing knowledge and techniques just by reading reliable investing books and articles. The pieces of information you can gain from these resources can help you become a successful investor.
  2. Eliminate high interest debts – Debts (especially those with high interest rates) should be paid off first before making any investment. Risking your money in investments while having high interest loans can greatly worsen your financial condition.
  3. Select a brokerage firm - If you really want to make investments, you have to create a brokerage account. You have two options here: online firms and traditional firms. Online brokerage firms offer easy and computerized investment systems. However, traditional firms may provide personal advice and services.
  4. Diversify your portfolio – Investing all of your funds in a single company can result in financial disaster. Consider putting your money in various industries and investment vehicles. This strategy is called “portfolio diversification.” Even if you think an investment is a "sure thing" never put all of your eggs in one basket. A diversified portfolio is recommended.

6 Fears That Prevent You From Investing

It’s hopefully no secret that investing is the way to build wealth. Stock piling your money in a savings account won’t help you become a millionaire, or even help you achieve your financial goals. Unfortunately, there are a lot of concerns and excuses that young professionals like to throw around that keep them from investing. I hope to dispel a couple of them in this post and to help motivate you to look at investing!

1) Investing is for rich people.

How do you think most of those people got rich? Not by sitting around and working their 9-5 job! It only takes a little bit of money to get into investing, and anyone can start trading stocks online!

2) I just don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile.

It’s the principle of the matter; if you can learn to make a little bit of money, you can learn to make a lot of money!

3) I just don’t have time.

Let’s face it; what young professional does? The fact is, if you don’t purposefully make time for your finances, they’ll easily slip out of control for you. It actually doesn't take all that much time to research and invest your money, plus there are now more and more affordable services online (Ally Invest, Learnvest) for you to pay a nominal fee to have your money invested.

4) There are too many options out there to invest in.

Well, you've gotta start somewhere. Try picking one good mutual fund or an index fund. This is a quick way to diversify your money and lessens the risk of just picking one stock.

5) I’m afraid I’ll lose my money.

That’s a fair point. Firstly, never put more money in than you could see decline. You should always keep an emergency fund as well as a nice pile of cash in the bank before you start investing. Secondly; no risk, no reward. You have to be willing to take a risk with your money in order to get the reward of actually making money. Thirdly; start small and safe with your investing. Don’t go investing in high tech companies that you don’t even understand their business model. Although you won’t ever eliminate the risk, you can certainly learn to mitigate it.

6) I already have a retirement fund, why should I invest more money?

Firstly, good for you for having a retirement fund! Take a look at your savings account right now, how much interest is it paying? I’d be surprised if you said more than 1%. Inflation in 2013 here in the US was 1.5% last year. That means that your money essentially lost some of its value just sitting in the bank.

Although you shouldn't go out and invest all of your money in the market, investing more than $0 would be a good start.

By investing early, you’ll hopefully be able to enjoy years of compounding interest and will see you total net worth grow!

How did you start investing?

Originally posted 2019-04-20 08:00:27.

Categories
Investing

Review of Betterment How to Invest the Easy Way

Let's face it, most people are lazy including me and you.

Yeah, we work at what is interesting to us, but otherwise, we'd rather keep things simple.

Here at Young Finances I've been trying to teach how to research stocks, build a portfolio and invest for retirement, but some people just hate finance.

And many Americans invest too little.

An Easy Way to Invest

I recently stumbled across a simple way to invest.

It's called Betterment.com. Betterment.com was founded in 2008 as a simpler, smarter, safer way to invest.

The CEO and Founder John Stein said "I created Betterment because after years working in financial services I was amazed that no one made saving and investing money as simple as it ought to be.".

How Does Betterment.com Work?

When you open a Betterment.com account, you will deposit or set up recurring deposits from a checking or savings account.

Then the folks at Betterment will invest on your behalf into ETFs based on your portfolio allocation. Portfolio allocation just means where you want your money to go.

There are two options, stocks and bonds.

You don't have to do any research or constant monitoring of your portfolio. They manage your everything for you.

The only thing you have to do is decide whether you want a low risk portfolio or high return.

What Does it Cost?

I think this is my favorite feature of Betterment.

There are no hidden costs, fees, or minimum balances.

They simply charge a small percentage of funds under management. If you are familiar with hedge funds, you know that they charge 2% and 20% fees for funds under management and performance.

Betterment.com charges anywhere from 0.15% to 0.35% based on how much you have deposited and how often you deposit.

This one fee covers everything. At most that's 35 cents a year for every 100 dollars deposited and you can open a trading account with as little as $250 dollars.

Trading in a traditional brokerage account, even if you only made one trade a year, would cost you at least 5 bucks.

Is it Safe?

Betterment LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC.

They have to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and maintain fair dealings within the rules of the SEC.

Remember that it is an investment account not a savings account so your funds are not protected by FDIC insurance.

However, your investments are protected with SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) just like with any broker-dealer.

And Betterment.com has a systems and security team that works around the clock to protect your account from fraud or malicious activity. If you already have an account that you actively trade stocks in, then this is a great way for you to supercharge your long-term savings.

A good way to use this account is to set up automatic transfers each month.

Making investing automatic and inexpensive will allow you to keep more money in your pocket.

I plan to use Betterment for my travel fund. It's money that I would have sitting in a savings account earning a risk-free rate of pennies a day.

I am no stranger to risk, so I would rather have the opportunity to earn more for my money.

And because I can withdraw funds at anytime without fees, it will give me nice flexibility.

Have you tried Betterment.com yet? Click here to open an account today!


Review of Betterment Easy Investing Account

5
LaTisha Styles
September 2018
"Easy way for young adults to invest in 5 minutes…"
"The Betterment brokerage account is an easy way to immediately build a diverse portfolio. Young adults can open an account in 5 minutes."

Originally posted 2019-04-14 06:00:59.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

How to Fix Bad Credit?

Wondering how to fix my credit myself? Or how to fix bad credit? There's no doubt that living in the modern world requires credit. Yes, you can live without a credit card and survive on cash or cashback debit cards.

I know because I did it for over two years as I paid off credit card debt. But what I really wanted to do was improve my credit score immediately.

However, when you are ready to buy a house, you'll need to get your credit straightened out. In this post I'll discuss getting a credit repair service as well as what steps you need to take if you decide you want to fix your credit score yourself. You might even be able to fix your credit in just 6 months.

These steps are so easy. Perfect guide for do it yourself credit repair.

Related articles from our approved partners:

How Can I Fix Bad Credit Myself? - 6 MonthCredit Repair Guide

First, watch this video from my friend Dominique over at Your Finances Simplified. He's going to tell you exactly how to fix your credit.

Watched the video? Good.
Feeling overwhelmed at the next steps?
Yep. I understand.
Let's take this step by step.

Take a deep breath. People think that having bad credit is the worse thing that can happen. But just calm down. You are taking the first steps which puts you on the right track.

Remember, it's just money.

No one is going to die. Take control and get back in the driver's seat!

Fix 1: Check Bad Credit

The first thing you'll need is your creditor information. Get the most recent credit card statements, loan balances, and installment loan reports along with addresses and phone numbers. I recommend printing everything old-school style. It's going to come in handy later.

Fix 2: Get a Free Credit Report

Then, take a second to get your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Each year you are able to pull your credit report for free from the three providers Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Optional: Get Your Free Credit Score

You can check an approximation of your credit score for free at Credit Sesame one of our approved partners, but if you are trying to fix your credit, you probably already know your credit score looks a little like this....

bad credit personified

But that's ok. We're going to put you on the good foot.

Fix 3: Review your credit report for errors (highlight each error).

You're getting ready to take charge and stop being a victim. Most people don't even realize what they could get removed from their credit just because of errors.

What should you look for?

Wait a minute. So, you're telling me you didn't watch the video above?

Scroll back up for me right quick and you'll find out exactly what you should look for.

Or keep reading...

Dispute incorrect names, addresses, SSN, and date of birth via the certified mail.

You will need supporting documentation and letters. You will have to write a dispute letter and include the specifics of the inaccuracies. You want to dispute inaccurate, erroneous, outdated, misleading, and unverifiable information in your credit reports.

Tired of being harassed by your creditors? Maybe you'd prefer that someone else handle all of this for you?

In that case, you might was to work with a credit repair company to improve your credit.


Are you ready to...

  • Remove bankruptcies to rebuild credit?
  • Permanently delete foreclosures and repossessions?
  • Erase debts that were in collection?
  • Completely get credit cards under control?
  • Get approved for loans?
  • Get the best financing on cars and homes?

In that case, check out our partner Lexington Law for more details on how they can help you clean up your credit report.

Finally, fixing your credit permanently also means creating good habits and getting out of debt.

How getting out of debt is like the MTV show, I Used to Be Fat.

I used to watch this TV show on MTV called I Used to Be Fat. The show documents young adults, usually high school seniors and high school graduates who want to lose weight before they start college. Each episode features a different teen. I absolutely LOVE this show. I like seeing the determination and perseverance of these kids, they are really focused on their goals. Most of them thought about quitting along the way but each one makes it to the end and they usually reach their goal.

I was thinking the other day about how the TV show is very similar to a battle with debt. When you're in debt, it can feel like you're carrying around a second person, experiencing frugal fatigue, or that you have a spare tire of bills around your waist. I know because I'm working on getting out of debt myself. I realized that there are 3 major points we can learn from the MTV show I Used to Be Fat when trying to take control of our debt.
debt

Improve Your Credit Step 1 - Give Yourself a Deadline

Before the teens even begin a weight loss program, their coach/personal trainer gives them a large tear off number calendar to place on their wall. It has the total number of days until their program completion date, and every day they rip off the next number.

It is a good idea, when you are paying off debt, to set a deadline for your debt-free date, like 6 months. Setting a deadline is a way of making your goal specific. Every time you look at that calendar or see that date it will push your brain consciously and subconsciously to make it to your ultimate goal, to reduce spending and get out of debt.

Improve Your Credit Step 2 - Check in Regularly with a Coach

Every week, the kids had a weigh in. Their personal trainer was making sure that they were on track with how much weight they were supposed to be losing at each stage in the process. Sometimes they were attempting to lose one pound a day! I never thought that was possible or healthy, but most of the teens actually accomplished it under the supervision of their coach.

If you really want to prioritize your goal of becoming debt free then you really have to give yourself check points. You can enlist the help of a friend or even a debt counselor to help you along the way. Having a good support system can make all the difference.

Improve Your Credit Step 3 - Get Rid of Old Habits and Create New Ones

When one of the teens was at a restaurant with her friends, she ordered a lean meal instead of the greasy french fries that her friends had. The personal trainer also taught her how to cook healthier meals so that she would be able to maintain her new lifestyle change.

Becoming debt-free is not a one-time goal. It has to be a lifestyle change. When I decided to start getting out of debt, I had to first evaluate why I was in debt in the first place. I had to eliminate my habit of impulse spending and replace that habit with a good habit. Now I impulse buy stocks and my portfolio loves it! It's not easy to change a habit that took years to cultivate, but with a good support system, it is entirely possible.

Are you ready to make a change?

Some of you may be thinking, I’m still young, so why should I care about my credit score? Lots of people have debt and less than stellar credit, but they’re still enjoying a cushy lifestyle. As long as I’m able to buy the things that I want, why should I be concerned? The answer is simple. Life is easier when you have good credit.

Take a look at it this way. Landlords, employers, and lenders need to determine whether they can trust you, and they look at your credit score as an indicator of your financial reputation. You may not think credit affects you greatly, but it does. When you ruin your financial reputation (a.k.a. credit score), it will take you a long time to restore it.

Poor credit affects your ability to rent, buy a car, get a home loan, and even open up accounts. Creditors don’t want to work with people with bad credit because the risk of not getting paid is very high. How can they trust that you will pay them back if you haven’t even paid others? If you’ve already tarnished your credit, here are some tips to help you fix your credit score and reestablish your life.

Improve Your Credit Step 4 - Make Your Payments on Time

This may sound trivial, but we all know that money can be tight, and skipping payments on one bill can help pay for other expenses. But, timely payments are the biggest factor affecting your credit score. Keep a budget, and make sure you have sufficient funds to make your credit card and loan payments on time.

Improve Your Credit Step 5 - Consider Getting a Secured Credit Card

Obviously, it will be very hard to get a regular credit card if you have bad credit. If you don’t qualify for a credit card, you can get a secured card instead. This is when the bank gives you a credit line equal to the deposit you make. If used wisely, a secured card can help nurse your poor credit to better health.

Improve Your Credit Step 4 - Add an Installment Loan

You can improve your score quickly if you show that you can be responsible for both major kinds of credit: revolving (credit cards) and installment (mortgages, auto, student loans, etc.). If you don’t have an installment loan and feel you are ready to handle one, consider adding a small personal loan. Stay away from expensive finance companies and “teaser” deals, and use a company that reports the loan to all three credit bureaus.

Improve Your Credit Step 5 - Avoid the Minimum Payment Trap

Credit cards come with high interest rates. We all know how our $2,000 computer ended up costing $8,168 because we only made the minimum payments at 20% on our credit card. Ouch, that hurts! Keep constant payments on your credit card (and don’t run them up again) and your balances will drop.

Improve Your Credit Step 6 - Use Your Credit Cards Lightly and Check Your Limits

Even if you pay your bills on time and in full each month, having big balances can hurt your score. Try to limit charges to 30% or less of your card’s limit. Lenders typically like to see a big gap between how much you’re charging and your available credit limit.

Improve Your Credit Step 7 - Keep Old Credit Cards

Don’t close out old credit cards. The longer your credit history, the better. Leave the accounts open but once you pay them off, stop using them. Closed accounts tend to bring down your score.

Improve Your Credit Step 8 - Suspend Credit Inquiries

The more credit inquiries you have, the more your credit score drops. Fix your credit and wait a while before allowing your credit to be pulled again.

Improve Your Credit Step 9 - Get a Goodwill Adjustment

If you have been responsible about paying your credit cards on time, the lender may agree to erase a late payment from your credit history. For more troubled accounts, communicate with your lender about possible options to erase previous delinquencies. If the lender agrees, it will improve your overall record.

Improve Your Credit Step 10 - Check Your Credit Report for Errors

You can check your credit report without negative scoring (once per year, for free) with the three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure to look for any mistakes that could be hurting your score. If you see something wrong, make the effort to have it corrected.

Improve Your Credit Step 11 - Seek Professional Help

If you are overwhelmed with debt and don’t feel you can handle the problem on your own, consider working with a professional debt relief agent. They can help you explore your options and give you guidance on this post

It’s very easy to ruin your credit, but it takes time to build it back up. No matter how bad your credit is, you can take steps to make it better.

Sometimes we mishandle our budget, and we spend more than we should. (You know that you shouldn’t have bought that expensive flat screen TV). And, sometimes we end up in tough financial situations because of things beyond our control. Whether you have experienced job loss, illness, or another type of financial disruption, it’s important to know that you can turn things around.

It may not be easy, but step by step, you will be able to fix your financial situation. Just don’t delay facing the issue. The longer you wait, the harder it is for you to recover.

Categories
Homeownership

4 Proven Ways to Save Money as a Renter

This post is sponsored by Fidelity Investments®. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Fidelity does not adopt, endorse or sponsor any other content on this website, including links to other third-party websites and is not responsible for any views expressed outside of this sponsored post.

Renting an apartment can be both an exciting and slightly stressful experience. Having a place of your own will grant you freedom but many financial responsibilities will be added to your plate as well.

Given the high market rent rates throughout the country, along with expenses like utilities, food, parking fees and a security deposit, many first time apartment renters are searching for a way to cut back on costs so they can avoid struggling financially.

Consider some of these money saving tips before looking for your next place.

Choose an Affordable Area

Location is very important when you’re trying to get more bang for your buck. The area that you choose to live in can significantly affect your rent. Most of the time, housing in a large city is going to be more expensive than in a small suburb.

But apartments closer to shopping malls, tourist attractions, and popular high-traffic areas of a city or suburb are going to cost more. The idea is that people who choose to live near these conveniences are willing to pay more.

Skip All the Amenities

Apartment complexes that have a gym, pool and clubhouse are nice, but if you’re trying to save money on rent, they may not be the best option. The apartments with the most amenities and luxury features will have higher rent because the tenants are expected to help pay for the extra add-ons.

If you leased an apartment at a complex that has a private gym and a hot tub, you may be paying an extra $100 in rent for luxuries you don’t often use. If you think your car will be safe parked outside of your apartment year-'round, then opt out of spending the extra $20 or $30 per month for a parking space.

It’s nice to have these things nearby but by choosing a basic apartment that has everything you need and little extras can really help you knock $200+ off your monthly rent. That will help you save $2,400 a year or more. That extra cash can go toward debt repayment or even help boost your savings.

When it comes down to it, you have to ask yourself what you value more and choose an apartment that fits your expectations in value, quality and affordability.

Get a Roommate

Living with a roommate can significantly lighten the financial burden that comes along with renting your own place for the first time. When you split the costs of rent and other bills, you’ll both save some money and you won’t be expected to pay for everything yourself.

If you choose to get a roommate, you’ll have to be okay with sharing your living space. Make sure you pick someone you can get along with and who has similar goals and values as you. Drafting up a brief agreement would be a good idea to lay out ground rules and make sure you and your roommate are on the same page. You’ll also want to make sure that both of your names are on the lease so you’ll both be equally responsible for paying the rent each month and maintaining the apartment.

Lower Your Utilities and Bills

As a renter, your landlord may cover some of the utilities like garbage and water and make a few repairs here and there, but you will likely be responsible for paying your own way as well covering your electricity, internet, gas and so on.

It’s very rare that a landlord will pay your electric bill because this utility can vary a lot based on your usage and it’s usually the most expensive bill you’ll have. Therefore, it’s important to do a quick sweep through the house before you leave for the day to make sure everything is turned off and if you have programmable thermostat, set it to automatically reduce heat or air at certain times during the day or night.

Budget

Delay turning your heat on for as long as you can during the fall and do the same with your air conditioning in the spring. Be very conscious of how often you use certain things in your home and try to conserve energy, water usage etc. You can also reduce your cable expense by opting for the most basic cable package. You can track your spending and saving using a tool like Cinch from Fidelity. With Cinch you can see your spending in one place and create a customized savings target. I can think of several times that I missed a payment because I didn't pay attention to all of my spending. Cinch helps with this.

Living on your own for the first time is full of financial challenges making it crucial that you prioritize your spending and cut expenses however you can.

Figured out the renting thing and looking to take the next step? Use this helpful tool from Fidelity to see if you should rent or buy.

Learn more about MyMoney, a website created by Fidelity Investments® to help you make sense of your personal finances. Fidelity Brokerage Services Member NYSE, SIPC.

Originally posted 2016-03-14 09:00:34.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

3 Simple Ways to Travel on a Budget

At some point in your life the travel bug hits you. For some people it happens earlier than for others. I remember always wanting to travel. So much so that my career ambition was to be a travel agent. After speaking with my guidance counselor, I learned that my career of choice was not as viable as I had hoped. So I decided to travel for fun instead. I traveled out of the country for the first time while attending college.

In college I signed up for a study abroad program. If you are still in college I highly recommend this way of travel as a first timer out of the country. It's an easy way to get acquainted with the whole process of leaving the country. Spending time outside of your natural habitat and in unfamiliar surroundings really helps you grow as a person. But travel can be expensive and as a college student or recent graduate, you have to watch every penny. So here are some tips to travel on a budget.

Plan Your Travel Budget

If you are a recent college graduate, then you may not have the money to blow on a five-star vacation to Dubai. But if travel is important to you then you should at the very least have a travel budget. I have a separate 'savings' account that is specifically for my spontaneous travel and each month I put aside 25 dollars. This process is as simple as setting an automatic transfer and at 25 dollars it doesn't affect my normal budget significantly. If there is not enough in my normal discretionary spending for a plane ticket, I can tap my travel savings account. I also try to deposit extra money in that account when I have it. This is savings in addition to my 401k and emergency account savings so I feel absolutely no guilt about emptying it every few months. I recently went to the Bahamas for my birthday and I emptied my travel account to enjoy a dolphin encounter. It was amazing! And I am already beginning to save for my next trip.

I want to make two important notes here. Nothing should trump your normal savings plan and you shouldn't 'dip' into normal savings for a trip. Secondly, it's OK to enjoy what you've worked so hard for! Just don't let it put you off track of your ultimate goal. But traveling doesn't have to be expensive and I'm going to tell you exactly how to budget for travel.

Search for Deals to Fit Your Travel Budget

While saving money for travel is beneficial, it’s important to stretch that travel dollar as far as it will go. Searching for deals on flights and hotels can help you save even more money. Try Kayak.com to find flight deals leaving from your city. You can also set an alert to track the flight prices as they fluctuate. I search for flights with Kayak and watch the confidence meter. It estimates whether the price of a flight will increase or drop over the next seven days. And snagging a good deal while it’s hot is a great method to stretch your travel dollar.

BONUS: Maximize Your Travel Budget

One of the best ways to travel on a regular basis is by using points or Miles that you earn with everyday purchases. For example, with the Discover it® Miles card, you can earn 1.5X Miles on every dollar spent. The card also allows you to fly any airline at any time. And you can also redeem your Miles for a variety of travel purchases including hotels or rental cars! As a new cardmember, Discover will automatically double all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year on your Miles card. Now you can travel even more.

Traveling as a college student or recent college grad does not have to be expensive. If you take the time to search for travel deals and put money aside into a travel fund, you can travel more often this year. And by using a card like the Discover it Miles card, you can even maximize your travel budget.

This post was created in partnership with Discover.

Originally posted 2016-01-27 16:58:57.

Categories
Young Finances

How Much Sleep Does a College Student Need?

College can be a busy time in your life. On top of attending class and doing homework, many college students get a job - leaving them with very limited free time. This also leaves very little time to sleep. Which brings us to a popular question: How much sleep do college students need?

According to experts at Stanford University’s Department for the Diagnosis and Treatment for Sleep Disorders, college students should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

This article goes on to describe how college students who end up getting less than 8 hours of sleep endure something called sleep debt.

Getting the proper amount of sleep is important and allows your body to have enough time to rest and recharge so you can be at your best focus and energy level for the following day.

Thus, as you can probably tell, pulling an all-nighter every week is not the healthiest habit for your body. Here are some simple ways college students can get more sleep time in to receive at least 8 hours each night.

Schedule a Nap

Naps can do wonders. Even if your schedule is busy, you may still have time for a nap if you schedule it for between classes. Some students like to use breaks within the day to catch up on homework and run errands. I used to use some of my free time in between classes to take a quick nap. Those naps helped me power through the rest of the day.

Most college classes start no earlier than 8:00 a.m. If you go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 6:00 a.m., that will leave you with enough time to get ready for class, go over homework and run an errand all before class. If you are less of a morning person, you can always stay up until 11 p.m. and sleep until 7. There are ways to get 8 hours.

Change your Sleep Environment

If you find it hard to get to sleep at night and you tend to lay awake in bed for some time, you might want to try changing your sleep environment.

Sometimes noise and activity can deter your body from being able to rest and relax so you can sleep. Make sure you turn the television and computer off at least 30 minutes before bed and get in a quiet environment.

If you notice anything about your bed that’s irritating you (like a squeaky or rough mattress or pillows that make your neck hurt) consider replacing said item(s).

Develop a Sleep Routine You Can Stick To

If you prefer not to take a nap during the day and get all your sleep in at night, develop a realistic sleep routine that will allow you to get 8 hours or more of rest each night.

As a college student, it’s nice that you have the power to create your own schedule. Decide whether you like to get more done in the morning or in the late afternoon and evening. Then choose your classes based on that preference.

If you work, most jobs will ask your availability. A lot of students try to get the bulk of their work hours done during the weekend but it’s not uncommon to work before, after or in between classes.

If you have a job that requires you to work late, make sure your classes do not start early the next day so you can get the proper rest.

Stay away from caffeine and coffee before bed. Take 10 minutes to prep for the next day before you lie down. If your routine is new, sticking to it each day might be a bit of a challenge at first, but it will become second nature soon enough.

Getting enough sleep as a college student is crucial to your success. It can help improve your academic performance, give you enough energy to make it throughout the day, and prevent sleep debt habits like drowsiness and oversleeping.

 

If the average college student needs 8 or more hours of sleep each night, how do you compare?

Originally posted 2016-01-20 10:00:33.

Categories
Young Finances

45+ Must Read Blogs for College Students

The Internet is filled with tons and tons of great content for college students. It can seem daunting to sift through it all to find what’s really valuable. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite blogs that provide everything from entertainment to inspiration to advice and more.

General & Lifestyle

Lifehacker: If efficiency is of interest to you, then you have to read Lifehacker. Even the “About” description is efficient: Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done. Descriptions don't get more concise than that. Lifehacker gives you ways to, well, hack life. And those tips can help college students save time, money, and prevent stress.

Kineda: Dubbed “Your Premier Online Lifestyle Magazine,” this website is chock-full of content from a range of topics – culture, style, footwear, tech, entertainment, automotive, and design, to be exact. The website's simplistic layout makes for an excellent user experience and, quite frankly, no matter what you’re interested in you can find something here for you.

everything i did: The writers here are all about helping others build a better life. Through sharing stories of the mistakes and lessons from their own lives, you can glean insights on how to live a better life yourself.

Forever Twenty Somethings: If you’re needing a mental break, and enjoy lists, this is the place to go. Find fun articles, helpful tips, and a lot of entertainment on this lifestyle, Buzzfeed style blog.

The Positivity Blog: This blog is exactly what it sounds like… a place for positivity. It offers “practical personal development advice and step-by-step strategies that work in real life to produce positive results.” Find tips for living a happier life, increasing confidence, becoming more productive, and improving relationships.

GenYize: Become a "Solutionist" with GenYize, a blog dedicated to millennials helping other millennials navigate life and plan for the future. Solutionists challenge the status quo and work to advance their generation. Sound like you?

Treehugger: Taking better care of our planet is an incredibly important charge, and one that we may not quite know how to do. Enter Treehugger. This “media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream” strives to be “a one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information.” If you have a passion to protect our environment, definitely subscribe to this blog.

Life After College: Okay, so you might still be in college, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start preparing for what happens after graduation. Life After College helps people wake up, live big and love the journey.

When I Grow Up: No, this isn’t the start of a Pussycat Dolls song. (Not sure why that song jumped into my head.) Michelle Ward is the founder of this blog which focuses on career success, change, and encouragement.

Advice from a 20 Something: Need advice? Ask Amanda! This advice column for the modern age covers everything from blogging to fashion to health and beyond. Any question you could have is likely covered on this blog… and if it’s not, you can submit a question yourself!

The Minimalists: At age 30, the two authors of this blog left their cushy corporate jobs to embark on a 21-day journey to minimalism. Their blog teaches you not how to have less, but make room for more time, passion, experiences, and growth.

Zen Habits: Life is chaotic and we often get lost in things that, when we really think about it, aren’t that important. Zen Habits helps you find simplicity and mindfulness amidst the chaos, and focus on what’s important.

Apartment Therapy: A sister blog of The Kitchn (linked in the below 'Health & Fitness' category), Apartment Therapy is a collection of resources and ideas to create a beautiful home while maximizing your budget and space.

Instructables: This blog takes how-to's to a whole new level. Instructables gives people a platform to share what they make, so that you can embark on whatever DIY project tickles your fancy.

Sploid: Stimulate your brain on Sploid, a blog subset of Gizmodo, that shares intriguing and just plain interesting content that will probably blow your mind.

Education

Chegg Blog: You’ve probably heard about Chegg as a resource for college students, but did you know they have a blog? There’s even a post about the 5 things you didn’t know your microwave could do. I’m definitely reading that one!

TED Blog: If you’re familiar with TED Talks, then you know the power of these information-packed presentations. For more great content, check out the blog.

Career

InternQueen: Chances are at some point in college you’re going to have an internship. Let the Intern Queen answer all your questions and prepare you for success in your endeavors! You can even find available internship opportunities on the site.

Ms. Career Girl: Ms. Career Girl is the ambitious, powerful woman in all of us, just waiting to break free. This group blog contains valuable information on everything from job search to travel, relationships to personal finance, fashion to professionalism and more.

Study Hacks: How do people reach the upper echelon in their careers? And of equal importance, how do they do so while keeping their work a meaningful and sustainable part of their life? These are the questions that Cal Newport, computer science professor at Georgetown University, aims to answer. Curious? Check out his blog.

Health & Fitness

Hello Healthy: As far as health blogs go, Hello Healthy is a favorite of mine. It is the official blog of My Fitness Pal that’s chock-full of recipes, exercise tips, and health advice. Its simple layout and easy to read content makes healthy living easy, fun and delicious.

The Kitchn: Recipes. Cooking lessons. Product reviews. Kitchen design. And more. The Kitchn is a daily food magazine helping people live happier, healthier lives.

Daily Cup of Yoga: Do you define yourself as a “yogi”? Then you have to check out this blog. Not only does it document a man’s journey with yoga, but also delivers inspiring content for simple living.

Eat + Run: U.S. News & World Report is a thought leader in many areas – best hospitals, best universities, etc. Did you know they also have a health blog? Their suite of experts provide food and fitness articles that are worth checking out.

Travel

The Blonde Abroad: Kiersten is a California native who left her stuffy corporate finance job to travel the world… and blog about it. Follow along on her adventures and, like me, be a little jealous.

Nomadic Matt: Travel more while spending less - $50 a day, to be exact. Nomadic Matt has been traveling the world since 2006 and now he uses his experiences to help others travel cheaper and take their dream vacation.

The Savvy Backpacker: Say hello to James and Susan, the experts on backpacking through Europe. Be careful jumping on this blog though, it’s going to make you want to walk out of college and never look back.

Science, Technology & Gadgets

Gizmodo: Do you love technology, gadgets, science, and all kinds of toys big and small? What about beautiful and smart design? Aircraft that fly at three times the speed of sound? Spaceships that reach every corner of the solar system? Geek culture? Science fiction? Then you have to check out Gizmodo.

Boing Boing: As a college student, you’ll definitely want to keep up with this “Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things.” Common themes include technology, futurism, science fiction, gadgets, intellectual property, and more. You’ll find some provocative thoughts, interesting discoveries, and a whole lot of weird.

Science of Us: Curious why we mishear song lyrics - or why we “happy cry?” Science of Us is a subset of New York Magazine that delivers quick, witty articles on a variety of subjects you didn’t even know were of interest to you.

News, Current Events, & Pop Culture

AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth. Wouldn’t you agree? AMERICAblog agrees. For college students looking to keep up with US politics, both domestic and foreign, this is a great venue for keeping abreast of current political events.

The Skimm: Okay, so not exactly a blog, but definitely worth mentioning. The Skimm is a daily email newsletter that gives you updates on news and current events in easy to consume and understand ways. I recommend signing up ASAP!

Socialite Heights: Keeping up with pop culture can be challenging for a college student. Enter Socialite Heights, your quick delivery source for the latest on fashion, music, fine arts, and leisure.

Vox: Yet another news source, but one that helps you understand the news, not just hear what’s going on.

Mic: Mic approaches news from a different perspective by tailoring its coverage to young people and millennials. For a college student looking to keep up with current events, Mic speaks to you and in a way that helps you make sense of the world.

For Women

CollegeFashion: Skewed towards women, College Fashion is great for keeping up with the latest fashion trends (and finding affordable options). On the CF blog, you’ll find fashion tips, trends, beauty tips, online sale updates, décor ideas, student street style, and style advice.

Refinery29: Are you a smart, creative, and stylish woman? Find everything you need on Refinery29! This fast-growing blog is quickly becoming a one stop shop for everything trendy for young women.

The Everygirl: The ultimate inspiration for the creative, career driven woman, aka The Everygirl. This blog shares content related to travel, current events, food & drink, finance, and more.

For Men

Primer: Finally! Something for men! Primer Magazine is all about career success and personal wellness – how men can better themselves and walk confidently through the gate of adulthood.

Por Homme: The name alone should tell you everything you need to know – Por Homme means “for men” in French. Categories include style, leisure, toys, startups, industry, people, and society catered to men.

Mantelligence: How to order a martini like a man? Yep, that sounds like useful advice. For all the manly intelligence you could ever need, head over to Mantelligence to be the best man you can be!

 

Podcasts

Hardcore History: Even if you’re not a history buff, Dan Carlin does an excellent job of using storytelling to chronicle historical events. Someone who makes learning fun? Sign me up!

WTF with Marc Maron: For that dose of comedic relief in your day, check out Marc Maron’s podcast where he interviews various celebrities in the entertainment business.

Criminal/Serial: We couldn’t do a podcast category without mention these hugely popular ones. Criminal does one story per episode in a similar style. Serial, a spin-off of This American Life, features one story throughout a season.

Plz Advise: Hosted by Molly McAleer, former writer for 2 Broke Girls, this podcast answers all your burning questions frankly and honestly. This one is not for the easily offended.

All Work, All Play: Familiarize yourself with the millennial outlook with this podcast which is half dedicated to work topics and half dedicated to the lighter stuff.

What are some of your favorite blogs? Share them in the comments below!

Originally posted 2016-01-13 10:00:01.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

How Can a College Student File Taxes?

If you’re a college student, you may not think a lot about taxes. After all, you may not earn a lot of money, or you may get work-study money and assume you don’t need to pay taxes. However, it’s important to be aware of the topic, even if you think they don’t yet apply to you.

Even if you’re in college, you may still have to pay taxes. While you can only answer these questions yourself, you may want to check with your parents and/or a tax professional as well for the best, most accurate advice.

Are You an Independent or Dependent Student?

In many cases, even if your parents have claimed you as a dependent on their taxes, and even if you’re a student, you may still have to file taxes. It depends on how much money you earned throughout the year.

If you were self-employed during the past year and made more than $400, you will have to file a federal tax return and pay self-employment tax. In addition, even if you received Federal Work-Study, you still are generally subject to federal and state income tax. However, unlike self-employment tax, your work-study income is exempt from FICA taxes, provided you’re enrolled full-time in school and work less than half-time.

No matter what income you receive throughout the year, you’ll want to make note of any earnings when you fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your FAFSA helps determine how much aid you will receive in the upcoming year for school. You should always fill it out, even if you think you or your family make too much to qualify.

Do Students Qualify for Tax Benefits?

College students may qualify for some tax breaks, or benefits, as long as they’re attending an accredited university, college, vocational school, or adult education classes. There are two tax credits in particular students will want to be aware of, as they can help lessen your tax burden and help you pay off student loan debt while you’re still in school.

As a student, you’ll want to check out the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. While you can only apply for one credit per person (i.e. you and a sibling could qualify for each credit, but you yourself can’t claim both), these credits are very helpful toward reducing your tax burden.

If you’re a student currently paying off student loans, you can also qualify for the student loan interest deduction and the tuition and fees deduction. Here are additional tax credits which you may also qualify.

"Will I Pay Taxes on Scholarships or Grants?"

This will likely come as a relief to many of you: you do not have to pay taxes on scholarships and grants. Any scholarships you’ve received for merit, athletics, and more do not have to be included in your gross income on your tax return. This also includes fellowship grants, which many graduate students receive.

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Once you've determined if you need to pay taxes, and how much you need to pay (if anything), it's time to file your taxes. If you're a dependent, you can work with your parents and provide them any paperwork they need to complete their taxes. If you're filing on your own, you can always e-file, likely for free since you're a student and don't make much money. In all likelihood, you won't owe anything and you may even get a tax refund. That's why it's always important to file your taxes, even if you think you didn't make enough of an income. Never leave money behind!

The tax code can be very complicated, regardless of your status as a student. See our Ultimate Tax Guide for more assistance.

Originally posted 2016-01-06 10:00:18.