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financial advice

6 Ways to Keep Your Money Up Post-Grad

6 Ways to Keep Your Money Up Post-Grad

This past two months have been huge milestones for college students around the country. In the words of Elle Woods, congratulations class of 2018, we did it! It’s time to trade in the cap and gown for a suit and tie and make sure your post-grad life is off to a great start. Here are 6 tips to keep your money right after graduation.

1. Don’t be Afraid of the B-Word

After you score your first job and get used to receiving a paycheck for a few months, it’s important to sit down and figure out a budget. Take the money you get after taxes, add up all of your monthly expenses (i.e. student loan payment, car loan, cell phone), and violà, your weekly budget has been born. Always try and spend less than what you make so you can put away money for a rainy day. Shoot for having 3-6 months of living expenses in your savings so that you’re prepared for emergencies.

2. Start Breaking Down your Debt

Hopefully you were Scholly member and accessed that free money to graduate debt free. If not, no worries – we’ve still got you. It’s no secret debt is daunting, but it’s how you persevere through that debt that can put you in the right financial mindset for the future. A crucial first step is to make a clear and detailed plan. If you have college debt, research options to refinance your student loans. Refinancing allows you to consolidate your federal and private loans into one streamlined payment with a lower interest rate. Streamlined payments lower your monthly payments leaving you with more money to save or invest. Find other ways of curbing your spending like packing lunches, passing on happy hours, and most importantly living within your means. You’ll break down your debt even quicker.

3. Check and Establish your Credit

Your credit score is a benchmark of your financial responsibility. After you graduate, it’s important to check your credit score to make sure there aren’t any unnecessary marks against you. If there are, request to get them adjusted. There are free websites available for you to check your credit score so there are no excuses. Your credit score will affect major financial decisions like purchasing a car, refinancing your loans, and renting an apartment. You don’t want to have a measly number holding you back from achieving your goals.

4. Utilize Your Employer’s 401k or Retirement Plan

If your employer offers a 401k retirement plan or some type of equivalent, take advantage of it. Ideally, you would want to contribute enough to get the company match (usually 4-6%), because who doesn’t like free money? The younger you start contributing to your retirement savings, the more powerful the compounding interest will work in your favor. Don’t stop at the company match though; if your budget allows for it, increase the percentage every year or each time you get a raise.

5. Start Investing

Investing can seem like uncharted territory to a recent college grad. It’s a common misconception that you need to pay down all of your debt before you put a chunk of your money into an investment account. Time is your biggest advantage when it comes to investing so don’t wait until you are making more money. Check out this guide for beginner investing tips for college grads.

6. Splurge on Experiences

Focus on experiences rather than material things. You don’t want to look back on your twenties and regret not booking that trip or going to that concert. You’ll never be this free again, so take the opportunity to travel to new places, try new things, and meet new people!

 

OneMain + Scholly present: 4 Important College Costs to Consider

OneMain + Scholly present: 4 Important College Costs to Consider

 
 

When searching for one’s ideal college or university, cost is often a significant factor. In some cases, it may impact a student’s choice of which school to attend. To get an idea of the cost of college, check out the following infographic we created with our content partner, OneMain Financial:

 
   Sources:  BigFuture  (1),  BigFuture  (2),  Federal Student Aid
 

Understanding the details of college costs could help students and parents create a financial plan for the road ahead. Here is some more information on four important college costs to consider:

1.  Tuition & Fees

When it comes to college costs, tuition is typically one of the largest expenses. Area of study, the amount of credit hours and type of school can all factor into the final cost of tuition(1). And as the infographic states, the cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can vary significantly.

A student's chosen major can also affect the cost of tuition. Enrolling in the sciences and fine arts will typically cost more than other majors(2). For instance, an engineering student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign paid nearly $5,000 more in tuition during the 2016-2017 school year than students in other majors(2). Fees can vary per student as well, depending on the school. To better understand what fees could apply, here are some examples:

  • Registration fees
  • Student services fees
  • Student organization fees
  • Endowment fees

Scholarships and grants can offer financial relief for eligible students. In addition to Scholly, our scholarship matching platform, there are several sources for obtaining federal grants. For more information on eligibility and how to apply, reference the websites for Federal Student Aid and the U.S. Department of Education.

2.  Living Expenses

A recent study by The College Board showed that over 50% of a college student’s budget can be spent on housing. There are a variety of factors that influence housing costs and the difference in price can vary significantly. For example, a student attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN could save nearly 70% on housing costs by living off-campus(3). However, a student attending Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA would pay 50% more in housing costs if they lived off-campus(3).

Although housing will likely be the largest college living expense, there are others to be aware of and prepare for. Here are some other living expenses to keep in mind:

  • Utilities (electricity, gas, internet)
  • Food
  • Toiletries

3.  Books & Supplies

According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the average college student can expect to pay over $1,200 a year for books and supplies(4). Although this total represents common supplies such as course materials and calculators, it does not include the cost of a laptop and other items. Fortunately, there are ways for students to lessen the impact of these costs. Here are a few suggestions to help lower the cost of books and supplies:

  1. Online search tools - Websites like BookFinder.com allow you to type in different search queries including author and book title to find used books for sale. Once you find the book you need, you can compare prices and choose from several different online marketplaces.
  2. Split the cost with a friend or classmate - If you know someone enrolled in the same class as you, see if they’re interested in splitting the cost of the book. It may be useful to create a schedule of when each person has the book so you can both accomplish your studying goals.
  3. Rent your books - Renting can be a good way to save on book costs. If you go this route, just make sure the version or edition you’re renting is the correct one for the course. Also, keep in mind that you may incur fees if the book is not returned in the same condition in which it was received.
  4. Buy used supplies - Gently used or refurbished items can be bought at discounted rates. If you’re looking to save money on school supplies, try searching for used supplies online or in local thrift stores.

4.  Additional expenses

College life outside of the classroom will cost money as well. Whether creating a financial plan for a semester or an entire college career, it’s important to plan for all costs associated with being a student.

Creating a budget for additional expenses could lessen the impact on your overall finances. For tips on how to get started and stay on track, check out our blogs on building a budget and sticking to a budget. The needs per student may differ but here are some potential additional expenses for college students to be aware of:

  • Clothing & laundry
  • Transportation
  • Entertainment
  • Extracurricular activities


RESEARCH AND PREPARE!

When considering the costs of college, it’s helpful to gather all the facts. Every student may have their own unique situation but understanding how to plan effectively for college costs can be useful today and in the future. Good luck!  


  1. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs/quick-guide-college-costs
  2. http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064
  3. http://www.businessinsider.com/cost-of-off-campus-housing-in-college-2015-9
  4. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/01/28/report-high-textbook-prices-have-college-students-struggling

Five Things to Focus on in 2017 ...

Five Things to Focus on in 2017 ...

It’s a new year filled with (among other things) resolutions, presidents, and yes opportunities for scholarships. So we decided to put together a quick list of the Top Five Things you should be focusing on to succeed and win big in the New Year. Welcome to 2017!

  • GET ACTIVE! Just like exercising, the more you do it the better in shape you’ll be in. Don’t forget to invest time into searching for new scholarships that you may not have seen last year. It might take a little discipline but remember what Thomas Edison told us that “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
     
  • REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with scholarship applications and essays. Take old writings and repurpose them to fit into the mold of scholarships that you’re applying to now. 
     
  • VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. Not only is it good for the community, volunteering is also good experience to place in scholarship essays and even college applications. Many scholarship applications ask about volunteer experience and what key takeaways people gain. Take some time to give back this year; you never know what you might receive in return.
     
  • BUILD A LIBRARY. Home Depot has plenty of tools you can pull from. We’re just messing don’t build an actual library but take the time to document everything that you do and learn from extracurricular activities and internships to babysitting and 5k’s. Many people don’t know that what seems like a small experience can have big results considering how many different types of scholarships are out there.
     
  • LEARN A NEW SKILL. There are so many new things to learn like how to login to Scholly with your chin (send pics). If you’re not such a risk taker, you could always do something like learn a new language but hey we’re not judging. Learning new skills helps make mental connections between different things that will help you on your scholarship essays. Applications tend to ask students to connect seemingly abstract concepts and learning new skills helps your brain do this in ways you wouldn’t think of. 

OneMain + Scholly: Announcing the College Affordability Series!

OneMain + Scholly: Announcing the College Affordability Series!

It is with great excitement that we announce our content partnership with OneMain. Together, we aim to inform and educate both of our communities about critical topics around college affordability, and suggest simple, effective ways to manage the financial commitment of college.

Scholly is all about matching students with scholarships to help them afford the college of their dreams, but we are aware that scholarships are only one part of a financial story. Since 1912 OneMain has provided personalized loan solutions to meet the needs of their customers. We believe that by partnering with great organizations like OneMain, we can provide college affordability information and financial education to a broader audience.


In this series, you can look forward to learning about college affordability/financial education topics such as: 

  • College costs
  • Financial benefits of a scholarship
  • Where scholarship money comes from
  • How to find and win scholarships
  • Stories and advice from scholarship winners
  • Tools that may help you reach your financial goals
  • Money saving tips
  • and more! 

 
 
Scholly is teaming up with OneMain to give students info on financial resources necessary to attend their dream school and beyond. We’re happy to be working together to make students, not money, first. We have always believed in the power of education, and getting informed about this crucial step in life is critical.
— Christopher Gray, Scholly's Founder & CEO
 
 
Attending college is an important step towards financial security, and it’s a step many of our customers are unable to take due to a lack of resources or understanding of just what support may be available to help them. OneMain is committed to helping our customers build their credit and increase their financial awareness and this partnership with Scholly is a natural extension of our goal to make our customers’ lives better.
— Sheldon Caplis, OneMain's Director of Community Engagement
 

So stay tuned for more in the College Affordability Series. We hope you’ll find it valuable and urge you to share it with your peers!