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Back to School College Planning: Real Advice from a College Student

By | 2016, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

College. When being described by those with a diploma hanging on the wall, it is a golden age of lasting friendships and high-stakes pranks. When imagined by youngsters that haven’t flown the nest, it is an escape from the demanding thumb of the parents. True, college is a great place to meet new people and discover independence; it is also a challenging time of learning to balance life with money.

The average college student graduates with $24,000 in debt, according to the Project on Student Debt.

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College doesn’t have to be four years of ramen noodles and Friday nights at home—with the right money management, any college student can have the same outlook (even if it is forty years in retrospect) as those that have moved their tassel.

Tip #1: Look at the Long Run
For as many times as the incoming freshman has been told: “College opens up so many doors, do whatever you want to do,” just remember that you cannot do everything that you want to do. Doing everything you want, satisfying every craving, or buying each impulse item will wipe out a bank account before the end of first semester.

Think about what will matter in a few years, rather than the latest craze or obsession. Will Jerusalem Cruisers last? Probably not. But having enough money to pay for next semester’s rent will matter. Save money for the long run, rather than spend it on something temporary.

Tip #2: Be Budget Friendly
The best way to manage money is to have a set budget and stick with it. Download one of the hundreds of budget-making apps (Mint is recommended), and decide how much you are going to spend and save each month.
Don’t just budget for bills and tuition; also budget for food, dates, books, and socializing. Being budget friendly goes beyond just having a reminder of how much you are supposed to spend though—you have to obey your own rules.
Find ways to cut back, whether it’s buying used textbooks online, having a suburban mom’s coupon book on hand, or trying your hand at a homemade meal. Many college campuses have fun free activities you can participate in. Having a budget will help you save money while still having enough for the essentials.

Tip #3: Shop Savvy
Taking a trip to the store is a dangerous activity; financially, that is. There are hundreds of options and sales, not to mention the pushy salespeople. To stay safe, shop savvy. Know exactly what you need to buy before you even enter the store, and how much you can spend.

Paying with cash is a great way to keep from going over-budget. Swiping a credit card is easy—sometimes too easy. It is easier to spend less when shopping with tangible money.

Be careful about the 5-buck-or-less temptations; those little buys add up quicker than you think. Finally, avoid impulse buys by making a 30-day waitlist. Put random finds and wants on the list. If in a month you still want something, chances are it will really add to your life.

Tip #4: Invest Early
Saving throughout college is the smart thing to do; automate your savings whenever possible. Leaving it in a bank or taped to the back of the toilet, however, isn’t always the best choice. If you’re not swimming in student debt or fishing coins from public fountains, it’s a good idea to start investing.

Before you jump in and make rash decisions, read up. Use the library and find out what will work best for you.

Whatever path you choose, start small. Diversify your investments, and plan on a regular schedule. By investing early, you garner one of the greatest advantages: time. Even if your investments are small, they will grow with time.

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3 Ways to Have a Better Conversation

By | 2016, Money Moxie | No Comments

We have all received advice on becoming better communicators: look people in the eye, nod, and smile. This shows you are paying attention. Forget all that!

There is no reason to show you’re paying attention, if you are, in fact, listening and paying attention. Here is some of the latest thinking on better conversations.

1. Be in the moment. Be present with the person you are having a conversation with. Don’t multitask. Don’t think about what you are going to say next. Don’t think about dinner. Stay focused. Be in the moment!

2. Listen and go with the flow. According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, “The average rate of speech for Americans is around 150 words per minute.” However, we can comprehend 500-700 words per minute. Since we are able to think faster than the other person can speak, our minds wander.

When thoughts enter our minds, we should learn to let them go. It takes effort and energy to actually pay attention and truly listen to someone else.

3. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If you’re conversing with a friend about her injury, don’t tell about your injury. If she is talking about the death of a family member, be careful about sharing the time you lost a family member. When in doubt, just remember, it’s not about you.

If you practice these three skills, you will be on your way to enjoying better conversations.

To hear more about these ideas and others from Celeste Headlee’s TED talk: “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” visit TED.com.

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Meals on Wheels

By | 2016, Money Moxie | No Comments

“Meals on Wheels” is a program that provides a nutritious meal, a friendly visit, and a watchful eye on the health and safety of seniors.

For seniors who have diminished mobility making it hard to shop for food, “Meals on Wheels” can come to you. For seniors who can still get out, they serve in senior centers and community facilities.

Generally programs serve adults 60 and over, and depending on individual circumstances, meals may be provided along a sliding fee scale, from no cost to full price.

To learn more about all the services provided and to see if you are eligible or if you want to donate to or participate in “Meals on Wheels,” check out http://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/.

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Aging In Place

By | 2015, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

There are a lot of benefits out there just for seniors! In upcoming blog posts, we will feature a few of these that you can take advantage of. Today, we would like to feature a program called Silver Sneakers.

Silver Sneakers was created to help you take control of your health. This program is an insurance-benefit health-and-fitness program for people who are over age 65.
If you qualify, you will have access (for free or at low cost) to over 13,000 workout facilities and classes around the nation, which are geared specifically towards active older adults.

To see if you are eligible, check out www.silversneakers.com. Get fit, have fun, and make friends!

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Summer Fun!

By | 2015, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Everyone should have a “bucket list.” On mine, you will find “swim with dolphins in a tropical paradise.” Last summer, I visited a luxurious resort right on a Mexican beach and I swam with dolphins! Below are tips I used for my magical vacation:

1. Create a vacation fund
Every month put some money into your vacation fund. Consider an automatic transfer and when you come across extra money (tax return, bonus, or inheritance), add it to your vacation fund.

2. Create a trip budget

  • Transportation – airfare, rental car, parking, gas, taxis
  • Lodging – room rate and hotel taxes
  • Food – groceries, meals, drinks, and snacks
  • Entertainment – tickets and fees for national parks, amusement parks, museums, excursions, and other events
  • Gifts and souvenirs
  • Currency conversion (if traveling internationally)

3. Travel discounts
Spend time looking for deals on hotels, airfare, excursions, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional discounts before booking. Tell them you are shopping for the best deal and let them compete for your business.

4. Expect the unexpected
Flights get delayed, weather changes, credit cards get lost. Be aware and set aside 10 to 15 percent of your travel budget for emergencies or surprises.

You don’t want to spend the next twelve months paying for last year’s vacation, long after the fun has faded.

If you can’t afford a dream vacation this year, you can still enjoy summer! You can cut costs by taking advantage of attractions closer to home. Spending time with those you love without spending a lot of money may sometimes bring bigger rewards than an expensive splurge. With a little extra planning you can make your summer one to remember and make memories that will last a lifetime.

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