Tuesday, February 7, 2012

College Grad Message on Finances 2

I demanded a lot of you with my 5 finance tips. I told you to cut back on spending, cut back on alcohol. That's hard post-college, and I didn't even tell you how to do it. I'm not talking about rehab, I'm talking about 5 ways to learn how to cut back!

1. Rationalize saving.
Find reasons to save that you care about. Create a wish list of things to buy and how much they each cost. Is it a new stereo or a membership for the local rec basketball league? Are you really craving an expensive haircut or fancy summer vacation? Make these things visual. Put a picture on your door so that you see it every time you leave, and you are reminded to use discretion.
*Use restraint. Don't just go out and purchase them, furthering your debt, or get your parents to pay for it. Save up until you have nearly double the amount before spending that way you don't spend it all and end up back at square one.

2. Credit Cards
Do not use that credit card for anything except hospital appointments. No more pizza runs or booze. No spending it on gas to go see your boyfriend. (If you must put gas in, only enough until you get paid again or can puppy dog your parents for more.) Otherwise, you better have gotten lost in the desert somewhere with your bank account at zero, you haven't eaten in two days, and there's no one from which to borrow money. Only then should you use it to get to a place where money can be wired to you or to signal for help by reflecting the sun from the plastic surface through the windshield of a passing car.

3. Check the apps.
  • You probably have a smartphone so download your bank's app for easier banking and quicker access to funds and info. 
  • Mint - Combines all your financial woes into one app. Make and monitor your goals. Best is it's free.
  • iCredit Calculator - Shows you how much debt you've acquired in credit cards and how long it will take to pay off. I'm sure this will give you pause next time you got to swipe it.
  • Debt Minder - Nearly the same thing as iCredit, but it combines school loans as well and sets the best and likeliest path to paying them off.
4. Don't fill up the tank.
When you go to the station, fill the tank up to half or a little under. It will make you mind how much gas is in there. Think about it: If you have a full tank and a friend invites you out, you'll just jump in the car and go. If you are low on gas, you will evaluate your options like maybe get your friend to drive you. The more you drive, the more gas you burn, the more money you have to spend.

5. Quit bad habits
Those things you picked up in college. Weed, smoking, online poker, drinking (though we've already talked about that) need to be cut back on if not paused momentarily. Most are bad for your health anyway. EX: Stop smoking and it will save you about $60. Replace those hobbies with healthier, free options like exercising, reading, camping/backpacking/geocaching, photo-blogging. Men: Here's 45 hobbies just for you from Ask Men.

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