Five Financial Tips for College Students

This year I’m excited to be partnering with Discover to share many of the great programs they offer consumers. All opinions are my own.

Did you know that 84% of all undergraduates have at least one credit card*?

Since statistics show that your college student is likely to obtain at least one credit card while they are away at school it is important to educate them on the benefits and dangers of credit.

Five financial tips for college students

Here are five things you should discuss with your college student before they leave home, so they don’t find themselves strapped with credit card and student loan debt when they graduate!

Help them create a budget before they go to college.

Did you know that 84%* of college students say they need more information on financial management? I’ll be the first to admit that I did a terrible job educating my kids about money until a few years ago. We either had money or we didn’t and that dictated our lifestyle.

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Helping your child create a budget BEFORE they go to college is one of the best high school graduation gifts you can give to them. If you haven’t created a budget before here are some free budgeting resources to help you get started.

Discuss smart credit card purchases before they go.

Items like gas, food, school books, and school supplies are expenses most college students incur every year. These are great items to charge and then pay off every month because they are in the budget.

Things like cosmetics, pizza delivery, video games, movies, and pay per view are probably not in the budget so remind them to leave the credit card in the dorm if they would be tempted to spend it on things they can’t afford.

Credit cards are not free money.

When my kids were little and would ask to eat out I would often respond, “We don’t have the money this week.”

Inevitably one child would shout from the back seat, “That’s okay, just use your credit card.”

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Make sure your college student has the ability to pay for his or her purchases just like they would with a debit card or cash. Remind them that if they can’t pay for their purchases at the end of the month, they will end up paying significantly more for those purchases because of the interest.

Keep it simple and only have one card.

Help them understand that multiple cards means multiple bills each month and a pretty high balance at graduation. If your child does not have experience with budgeting, tracking expenses, and paying their own bills every month, multiple cards is probably not a good thing.

Discuss the different credit card options with them and help them make the best decision for their financial goals and future.

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The Discover student credit card rewards students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher with a $20 Cashback Bonus®  every year. Discover it® chrome for Students offers an automatic 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to$1,000 in combined purchases quarterly. Students also receive 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Discover it® chrome also has no annual fee, which is great, because what college student needs and extra expense every year? 

Remind them to look over their bill every month.

A few years ago I got into the habit of blindly paying my bill every month without looking over the charges. Then one month I realized we had been billed for a service we cancelled several months earlier.

While your credit card probably does a great job of catching fraud, it is easy for smaller charges to slip through the cracks, especially if there was a free trial involved.

Help your kids read through their first several bills and look for errors. Make sure they know when the bill is due and remind them to pay it on time so they aren’t paying late fees and interest.

For a young adult, good credit can help buy a car, rent an apartment, or even obtain a mortgage. But financial mistakes made in college will live with your child for years after they graduate.

It’s never too early to start discussing financial responsibility and budgeting with your children. The earlier you start, the more likely they are to take those principals with them when they go away to school.

*source

 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Today Only: $69 Amazon Prime Membership!

Today you can save $30 on your Amazon Prime membership. Get it for only $69 for the year! Sign up now!

I’m a pretty frugal person. I like to save money and it rubs me the wrong way to spend money on things we don’t really need.

When Amazon Prime was first introduced I was skeptical.

I’m going to pay how much per year for what? 

My brother, who is always first to find out about these kinds of things signed up right away. After a year of watching him order off Amazon and never pay for shipping, while I waited for free shipping deals, tried to get my order value up to get free shipping, or missed out on great deals (for things I needed) while he was able to order them and have it delivered to his house in two days I decided to try it.

I decided to sign up for a free trial and I was hooked. After I starting thinking about the math I realized the $99 fee was really $9 a month. Could I justify the $9 a month? Did the savings add up?

It did, and here’s how.

I absolutely love Amazon Prime. Not only do I receive free shipping on almost every item I purchase at Amazon, I also have free music, movies, and Kindle books! It's totally worth the membership price.

Amazon Prime is FREE for 30 days.

Yes, this is a marketing tactic from Amazon, however you can use Amazon Prime for 30 days then cancel and be charged nothing at all, ever. So for the next 30 days you can enjoy free shipping, holiday playlists, free books on Kindle and Christmas movies for free.

You must cancel your membership at the 30 day mark if you try it and decide it isn’t for you.

This is how I started my membership and realized about 15 days in that I loved Prime and would be keeping my $99 yearly membership.

You can sign up for your trial membership here

Amazon Prime gives you Free Shipping on thousands of items every day.

I have six kids at home. It isn’t easy to load them up and take them on errands with me. Many of the items I purchase are available on Amazon for a competitive price.

If I can shop on Amazon instead of loading up the kids and taking two hours out of our day to shop it is worth it just for that.

Also, if something is only available online, I usually purchase it from Amazon because I know I get free shipping and the price is better (which it usually is).

I do most my Christmas shopping on Amazon.

For most of the last fifteen years we’ve lived away from our family and have not spent Christmas with them. This means mailing gifts every single year. With Amazon Prime I ALWAYS have free shipping, never have to wait in line at the post office (seriously that’s a nightmare this time of year) and the gifts always arrived in two days!

Amazon carries so many products it is almost impossible not to find a gift for a loved one on the site.

Amazon Prime gives you FREE Kindle books through the lending library.

I love to read, and we love to go to the library. Sometimes the books I want to read are not available at my library and I’ve waited, weeks and months for books to come in. When you have Amazon Prime you are able to “borrow” books for 30 days to read on your Kindle.

This is an awesome way to read without spending money, worrying about library fines, or lost library books. They have over 500,000 titles available in the lending library so there’s probably a few books available you have on your list.

Amazon Prime gives you unlimited photo storage.

This is a new feature for Amazon Prime and probably the one I’m most excited about after free shipping. Since I pay $30 a year to a photo storage company and another $10 a month to Dropbox to store photos this feature pays for itself every year.

Cloud Drive offers secure online storage, automatic photo backup, and lets you access your photos anywhere: on your phone, computer, tablet, or any Fire device.

After losing 40,000 and three years with of photos this summer when my son dropped my computer (some where backed up, some weren’t). I’ve been uploading photos to the cloud. I don’t want to lose any more photos and when you take as many as I do you need unlimited photo storage!

Amazon Prime gives you thousands of free videos and television shows.

I don’t use this one often because I’m not much of a tv/ movie watcher, but it’s definitely a great savings.

You can instantly stream Prime Instant Video titles from your computer’s web browser, Fire phone, Fire TV, Fire Tablets, iOS devices, and hundreds of other Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, set-top-boxes, and gaming consoles.

They have lots of kid’s shows available for free including Thomas, Veggie Tales, Angelina Ballerina, as well as lots of holiday movies.

Amazon Prime gives you free streaming music.

We’ve been paying $9 a month for Spotify for the past year. Now Amazon Prime gives you free streaming music. They have over a million titles including holiday music and playlists (yay! Love me some Christmas music!)

This is a new benefit for Prime members that I’m excited to try out. I’d love to cancel my Spotify account and save!

Amazon Prime gives you early access to Lightening Deals.

I love Lightning Deals around Christmas time because the prices are really amazing. A Prime membership gives you access to these deals 30 minutes early, so if it is something you really want to buy it will be available early and you’ll be able to get it before it sells out.

Six Month Free Trial for Students!

If you have a child with a .edu email address they are eligible for a free six month Amazon Prime Student membership. The benefits are the same for a student membership but if you decide to continue with the program it is only $50 for the year instead of $99.

Sign up for the student membership here

For my family Amazon Prime adds up!

Amazon Prime yearly membership $99.

Things I don’t need because I have an Amazon Prime membership:

  • Dropbox $10 a month
  • Spotify $10 a month
  • Netflix $8 a month
  • Photo hosting $30 a year

Total savings each year: $366 

If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership this is the BEST time of year to start your free trial! If you don’t love it, cancel before your 30 days are up and you pay nothing.

I think it is worth the $9 a month that a memberhip costs because I use Prime almost weekly. I’ve purchased fixtures, fans, lightbulb, paint, even wallpaper scrapers from Amazon in the past six weeks and I’ve never had to worry about waiting for an item to arrive or paying for shipping!

Do you have Amazon Prime? Do you think it is worth $99 a year? 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Double Your Savings by Maximizing your Cashback Bonus®.

This year I’m excited to be partnering with Discover to share many of the great programs they offer consumers. All opinions are my own.

I do the majority of my shopping online. With a house full of kids and limited time, online shopping allows me to shop early or late and find the best deals by using online coupon codes, free shipping, as well as cash back shopping sites.

I also prefer to use a credit card while shopping so my purchases are protected, just in case there is a problem with the seller.
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To maximize my savings I always use a rewards credit card. If I’m already using a card, I should be rewarded for it, right?

For example, this week we needed to replace some parts on the boys’ toilet. I can get 2% cashback from one of my favorite online shopping sites, plus an additional 5% from my credit card. That’s a 7% savings and I didn’t clip a coupon, hunt for a deal, or spend any extra time shopping.

If you are aren’t using a cashback credit card, but you use a credit card I highly recommend switching cards.

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As a current promotion, Discover is extending an exclusive offer to only new Discover it® card members from now through September that double the amount of Cashback Bonus® you earn, in your first year, with no limit on the amount of rewards you can earn.

  • Automatically earn Cashback Bonus on every purchase
  • Earn 5% Cashback Bonus for every dollar you spend in rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum, when you sign up
  • Get extra rewards and savings when you shop through Discover Deals
  • Now when you Refer a Friend who becomes a new Discover cardmember, you could both get $50 Cashback Bonus.

My favorite part of this card is the 5% Cashback Bonus! From now until the end of September you can earn 5% cash back at Home Improvement stores, department stores and Amazon.com. With our home remodel I pretty much live at home improvement stores and am looking to save anyway that I can!

However not everyone is replacing toilet parts on a weekly basis, but most everyone shops for gifts around the holidays! From October to December they will be offering the 5% cashback bonus on Amazon.com purchases, which is fantastic considering I do the majority of my Christmas shopping on Amazon!

While I prefer getting the cash back, Discover it has a great program if you want to redeem your rewards for gift cards. They have a great selection of retail partners that offer a boost in value for the gift cards. For example, if you have $20 in your Cashback Bonus bank, you can redeem it for a $25 gift card at some retailers.

I know my big kids and nephews love getting gift cards for birthdays and Christmas, so this is a great way to spend less on gifts they will love.

While there is a quarterly limit on the 5% Cashback Bonus, there is no limit on the other rewards. If you’re like me and use your credit card for everything, so you only have to pay one bill each month, I highly recommend getting a card that allows you to maximize your benefits.

If you could essentially save 5% on purchases you were already going to make why would you shop any other way?

Visit the Discover website to learn more and apply for a card.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

5 Simple Ways to Not Have a Car Payment

Last year I shared how we paid cash for our van. Since buying a van we have purchased another car for cash. I know these days having a car payment seems like a way of life, but let me encourage you, not having a car payment is an even better way of life.

5 ways to help you save up and pay cash for a car.

Do we drive brand new cars- No
Do we drive reliable, clean, and paid for cars- Yes

If you want to rid your life and your budget of a car payment here are 5 simple ways (or not so simple) to make that happen.

Pay Off Your Current Vehicle

When we owed money on our vehicle we started adding extra money every month to the payment. To make sure we paid extra we made the deductions automatic. Any extra money that came in went to the payment.

When Your Vehicle is Paid For, Keep Driving It!

After you pay off your vehicle, don’t trade it in for a newer model, keep driving it. According to The Simple Dollar, the average American family spends $300 a month on a car payment. If you drove your paid for vehicle for 2 years and saved that car payment money you would have over $7000 CASH saved for a new vehicle.

Sell Your Current Vehicle and Buy a Clunker

Last year we started looking for a “get around car” nothing fancy, just something for my husband to drive to work. We researched the most reliable older vehicles and narrowed our search. After looking for a few months my husband found a car for $500! This was in the D.C. area, where prices are not cheap. Since purchasing the car we have put another $300 into maintaining and making repairs. We have owned the car for 10 months and spent a total of $800. That equals an $80 a month car payment, which is significantly less than the national average of $300. Even if this car lasts us a year or two we have accumulated a large savings for another vehicle.

Drive Your Vehicle Until it is Ready for the Junk Yard

We never had new cars growing up. My dad’s philosophy was to drive a car until you have to pay someone to take it out of your driveway. That meant we would have the same car for years. But it was years of not having a payment. Yes, there were repairs (although my dad always found inexpensive mechanics) but they were less than payments. By the time our cars were ready to be towed out of the driveway (and yes, this did happen) my parents had saved enough money to replace our vehicle for cash.

We bought a two year old minivan in 2000. We took out a loan (we didn’t know any better then) and paid it off in 3 years. We continued to drive this car for 6 more years. During those six years we were able to save our $250 car payment. When we finally sold the van (for about $1000) we had saved around $18,000 for a vehicle. Do you know that you can buy a really nice used car for $18,000? I know this because I am driving it right now. While our minivan wasn’t the prettiest thing to look at we kept driving it because it worked, and it was paid for, and we were looking towards the future.

Go Without

When I wrote about owning only one vehicle a few years ago, people told me it just wasn’t possible. I still disagree. For years we were a one car family, and I have many friends who are still a one car family. Can it be inconvenient, yes, does it require sacrifice, yes, will you miss out on things, probably. But if you need to get your finances under control this is one way to do it.

 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.