Don’t Panic: Filing Taxes As A College Student

tax tips for a college studentImagine skipping a day of class, then coming into the next session and seeing a test. You open the packet and see what appears to be gibberish staring back at you. Everyone else around you seems to have a perfect grasp of what’s going on, but you’re just stumbling in the dark.
That can be what the process of preparing your taxes can feel like the first time you do them. You’re given a big pile of paper and expected to sort it out yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Before you start to panic, though, take a deep breath. There are a few questions that might make your life much easier. Grab that big stack of paper and ask yourself …

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Three Things You Can Do This Summer to Boost Your Earnings Potential

college student summer job skills

Believe it or not, summer break is right around the corner. For many students — who have put in heavy hours during the school year — the plan for summer months is pretty simple: sleep in, hang out with friends, make a little money for school next year, and stay up late.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that plan.  But if you’re looking for a break from the norm, consider taking this summer to do some smart self-improvement that will have a positive impact on your life for every summer yet to come. If you want to do something this summer that will increase your first post-college paycheck, start with these three activities. [Read more…]

A Simple Guide to Writing a Great Resume

resume writing tipsFilling out a simple application may have been enough to snag that part-time summer job at the ice cream store during high school. But now that you’re in college, it’s time to graduate to a more advanced job-finding tool: the professional resume.

Creating your first resume can seem daunting, especially since your professional experience may be limited. But the sooner you master this skill, the sooner you’ll have a document you can easily send out whenever you happen upon an internship or employment opportunity. [Read more…]

Should You Cut the Cord on Cable This Year?

should you cut the cord on cableWhy is the cable/satellite bill so frustrating? Is it because the bill seems to go up every so often (and 2016 will be no exception) for reasons that are, at best, baffling? Is it the customer service which is, at best, infuriating? Or is it that feeling you get when you’re flipping past channel after channel that you never watch, making you realize you’re paying for something you don’t want or need? That feeling is, at best, unsatisfying.

Whatever the reason, getting the TV bill under control is one of the trickiest parts of managing the monthly budget. It can feel like the options are living in the stone age or dropping a small car note on channels that you won’t even watch.

Fortunately, the options for cord cutters have never been better. But before you call up the cable companies and tell them you’re ready to move on, it’s a good idea to consider the costs and logistics of going cable-free. [Read more…]

The Financial Lessons of James Bond

financial lessons from James bondEverybody’s favorite spy is back in theaters this month with the release of “Spectre.”  To mark the occasion, we decided to take a look at his 50-plus year history to see what lessons we could learn about life and money from the greatest secret agent in film history. [Read more…]

Getting the Right Loan on Your Next Auto Purchase

tips for buying a car from a dealershipSo, you’re buying a car.  You’ve made it past the tedious comparison shopping, you’ve finished the detail-oriented research and you’ve even endured the haggling with the salesperson.  Your tongue probably tastes like that terrible coffee they use in every car dealership in America and it’s pretty likely you’re thinking about everything else you could have done with your weekend.  But, it’s almost over.

“I just gotta go in to see the finance manager, sign some papers, and we’re on our way home.”  That feeling of relief washes over you, you let your guard down, and you don’t even realize until too late that you’re suddenly in a much higher monthly loan payment or longer term than you’d planned for.  What, in the name of Lee Iacocca, just happened? [Read more…]

Mastering a Bottom Line, Top Line Approach

mastering a bottom line, top line approachCollege isn’t easy.  You’re learning everything all at once, being tested on it, writing essays about it, organizing group projects about it, and then you’ve got to do laundry, make dinner and maintain an acceptable level of personal hygiene.  You may also have a job, internship, children or some combination of the three.  While your instructors may get mad about the question, “Is this going to be on the exam?” it might be the only way you keep your sanity.

So, here’s the bottom line: Just worry about the top line of your resume.  That’s it.  The average interviewer only looks at each resume for 6 seconds.  That’s nothing.  That’s why your goal is to have a top line that makes people want to learn more.  Something interesting and novel that no one else has. Deliver a cool project.  Put together a show.  Get elected to something.  Make a top line. [Read more…]

Nightmare On Your Street (Or Do Your Finances Make You Want to Scream?)

financial lessons from horror moviesAs Halloween gets closer and you want to avoid the chilly darkness of October evenings, grab a blanket and stream a marathon of scary movies.  Horror flicks are classic fun, whether they’re good enough to keep you up all night when you’re home alone or bad enough to laugh at while with a group of friends because we all know what’s going to happen next.  The classics follow a simple formula, but it works.

The same is true when it comes to your finances.  Spend less than you earn, pay off debt and invest your money with trustworthy people.  Still, we have trouble getting all of the complex parts of our financial lives sorted out.  Let’s try applying the scary movie formula to your finances so you’ll never have that heart-racing moment of panic when you check your balances again. [Read more…]

Emergency Credit to the Rescue

emergency creditLife is unpredictable. That’s probably no surprise to anyone. And it’s probably also pretty obvious to say that when life does throw you a curve ball, it’s usually going to cost money.

Unexpected medical bills, major home repairs, a car accident: these events can easily wreck havoc on your budget and savings.

And they don’t just cause problems for people without savings. [Read more…]

New School Year, New Resolutions

college student financial goalsAh, autumn.  That wonderful time of year when the leaves change color, football takes over the television for five uninterrupted months and students head back to school.

Alright, it’s not actually autumn, it’s August.  It’s still summer outside, and more of the country is watching grass turn brown than observing the leaves transitioning to orange.  School is starting, though, and you’ve probably already gone through a lot of the rituals that accompany a new school year, so you may be in a back-to-school mood.

Here’s a tradition you might not have tried: Have you made a new school year’s resolution? [Read more…]