5 Budgeting Tips For High School Seniors Getting Ready For College (Guest Post)

Dave Landry Jr. is a financial consultant and economist dedicated to blogging and the creation of infographics in his down time. He has two young daughters who will be graduating from high school before he knows it, and will be sharing these budgeting tips with them as well. He hopes you find these tips useful for your own pre-college budgeting, or if you’re a parent, will give some of this advice to your children.

Congratulations, you’ve made it through high school! As you get ready for the next big step, it’s important to learn real world skills that will help you transition not only from high school to college life, but also from college life to the world beyond.

Budgeting skills are important in everyday life; learning how to manage your money before you’re on your own in college will keep you from overspending and finding yourself deep in debt. Below are some budgeting tips that will help you get started on to that path to financial security.

1. Learn to track your spending. The first step to creating a budget is to document everything you spend money on or buy. Whether you stick with an old-fashioned notebook and handwritten lists or choose to download spending tracker apps for your smartphone, track everything you spend for at least a month. It doesn’t matter if it’s as small as a pack of gum or a soda from the vending machine at school. While not strictly necessary, it would be good to include notes on your spending behavior, like how you paid for it, where you bought it, and why you bought it.

After a month’s documentation, you’ll have a better sense of where your money is going. If you use apps or a spreadsheet, you can quickly see how much you’ve spent on entertainment, car expenses, clothing, food, and school-related purchases. This will form the base categories of your budget.

2. Learn to develop a budget. Once you’ve established where you spend most of your money, start to set up a budget. The budget will consist of the major categories established during your spending, and will include a space for savings, emergencies, and income.

Ideally, you’ll create this budget on a spreadsheet, or using one of the free online budgeting tools or apps. Once you graduate from high school and enter college or the workforce, your budget categories will change and shift; using a malleable system allows you to customize and adjust as needed.

Establish spending maximums so that your spending doesn’t exceed your income.

3. Pay yourself (start saving). One of the important categories in your budget should be a savings account. Even though interest rates on savings accounts are low right now, putting money in the account is more about the practice and the act of creating an emergency fund, than it is about making your money work for you (even though it is a good idea to start thinking about investments and interest rates).

Whether you’re saving for a rainy day, or towards a particular big purchase like a post-graduation trip or a new car or college, getting into the habit of “paying yourself” and including it on your budget will serve you well in your adult life, when you won’t necessarily have alternative sources of financial assistance.

Learn to prioritize within your budget by putting money in your savings account before you spend any of your income or allowance on entertainment.

4. Figure out financial aid, student loans, and other means of paying for college. Most families will need to rely on financial aid and student loans to pay for school. As you, the student, will need to start paying back the loan as soon as you graduate (up to a six month grace period, or possible deferment if you are going to graduate school), it’s important that you learn as much about your options before taking out the loan. Don’t borrow any more than absolutely necessary for tuition, room and board, and other essentials.

5. Get a summer job. Now that you have a sense of your expenditures, and can project how much you need in order to fulfill all your bills and other costs, you need to start bringing in income. If you’re not already working a part-time job of some sort, consider getting one in the summer between high school and college. Previous work experience can help you get a coveted college job, which will help with bills that the student loan doesn’t cover.

Keeping to a budget isn’t as boring or challenging as it may seem. These are necessary skills that can translate into an opportunity to study abroad, buy that dream car, or have money on hand for an emergency, which greatly reduces stress in the long run. Learning to manage your money is a skill you’ll use for the rest of your life. You can also consider obtaining your education online through affordable programs that offer equivalents of in-classroom learning and degrees. Online degree programs also allow students to pursue their education at their own convenience, allowing them to work full-time to support themselves or a family if need be.

Now that you’ve got your budget under control, it’s time to focus on your grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!


Easy Part-Time Jobs for College Students (Guest Post)

We all know college can be a difficult adjustment. It’s hard enough to balance schoolwork with having a social life and getting enough sleep. How are you supposed to fit in a part-time job, too? The good news is that it can be done, and it may be easier than you think! There are plenty of jobs out there for the enterprising college student that can give you valuable experience as well as a little extra spending money, without taking up too much of your time. In my opinion, freshmen should hold off on working for at least a semester or two. But when you’ve settled into college life, here are some easy ways to earn money while still having enough time to study and play:

Summer jobs for students

Shh … You’re in the Library

Working on campus is ideal, but in the library it’s even better. If you’re worried that working won’t leave enough time for studying, this is the job for you. Duties of a study hall or library monitor usually include supervising, shelving and provide centralized access to some of the resources and services they provide. It’s a pretty easy job, and with lots of down time — meaning you’ll be in a quiet place with time to catch up on reading and homework.

It’s Tutor Time

If you’re especially strong in any subject, visit your university’s educational resource center to see if any tutoring positions are available. Even if you aren’t comfortable tutoring peers, there are many tutoring opportunities available at any education level. Visit middle school and high school settings to see if administrators are looking to hire outside help, or if parents need someone to help Junior with his math homework. Even if the work is easy for you, it’ll help keep you sharp on subject basics.

Remember Retail

Working in retail or in a fast food setting often gets a bad rap, but don’t assume flipping burgers is your only option. Frozen yogurt shops and smoothie-making joints are especially popular around college campuses. Visit job-applications.com to see if you can score a part-time job at either of these types of establishments, and you’ll likely find you aren’t only earning money but are also meeting a lot of people your age.

Live-in Help = Free Rent

Don’t worry about this job interfering with your study or social life, because there’ll be plenty of time for everything. Interested? Consider this: In college, many young people live with an elderly couple and help take care of the house and yard in exchange from room and board. As live-in help, you may be responsible for mowing the lawn, vacuuming bedrooms and preparing food — but they’ll be paying for it.

Donate Plasma for Gas Money

All around the country, people are getting $20-$30 a week for donating their plasma, and it’s not a black market deal. Plasma centers draw your blood, extract the plasma from it and return your blood back to you. It’s used to help hemophiliacs, burn victims and aid other ailments. Because it can take up to two hours, unlike donating blood, plasma centers pay you for your time and plasma.

Babysit & Study

Don’t dismiss the idea of babysitting just because you’re out of high school. Teachers, university employees and graduate students who have children often favor college students when choosing a sitter. Students may need you to stay home with their child while they run to class or work part-time themselves. Especially if it’s scheduled during nap time or in the evening, you may only be acting as a precautionary babysitter who’s there in case the child wakes up. In this case, you can get some good studying in while earning a few bucks.

Guest Post by Brad Long
Brad has a knack for writing and gardening. So far he’s managed to find a way to feed himself by being good at both of these activities and that’s good enough for him.

Going to college?  Give yourself the gift of good grades with The Secrets of Top Students!