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Getting Your Pre- and Post-College Finances in Shape

Do you feel the need to get your personal financial situation in order before heading back to school? Or perhaps you just graduated and want to start your professional life off right. Either way, it makes sense to arrange your income and expenses so that you don't come up short. Here are some effective ways to boost your monetary health:

2:18 min read
  Yigal Ben Efraim  —  Grammar Tips
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Reduce Monthly Expenses

If you find yourself worried about past education debt, you can do a few minutes of online research and locate a lender who offers consolidation services. By putting all your loans into one simple monthly payment, you often have access to more favorable terms and lower interest rates. Older adults who owe on school loans usually have higher incomes now than when they first applied. That can translate into better rates, and the act of consolidating means a hassle-free, once per month payment arrangement.

Make a Fresh Budget

If you're a mid-career adult who's going back to complete a degree or obtain a new one, keep in mind that you will either be without full-time income, or will be working a 50-60-hour week with job responsibilities, class attendance, and study time. Either way, your spending habits, at the very least, will change. What you save on the cost of leisure activities you'll dole out in school expenses. Make a detailed budget to include all your new costs and delete the expenses that fall off the radar. It's especially vital to have an efficient budget that you don't have to think about or amend for a while because switching from work to school can be a jarring change for many.

Avoid the Urge to Purchase a New Vehicle

Far too many college graduates rush off to the dealership and plunk down a chunk of their savings on down payment for a new car. There are multiple arguments against buying a new car, as opposed to one with a few years on it. But, for a new grad, it's wisest to get grounded in your career first and sock away as much money as you can. You can start off on the road to smart saving by fixing up a car you already have or buying a very reliable used one.

Shop Around for Tuition Deals

If you're on your way back to school for a graduate degree in business, law, engineering, or education, realize that tuition fees vary greatly. Online programs tend to be much less costly, so consider those options if your field of study allows for distance learning. Whether it does or not, be careful to add up all the associated expenses of the schools that make your short list. In addition to tuition, find out about meal plans and dorm costs if you'll be living on campus, activity fees, books, lab or special event charges, and anything else on the tally sheet the finance office gives you. Adults who return for degrees are often shocked by the cost of textbooks. And note that some business programs require you to purchase a laptop for exclusive use on coursework.

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