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10 financial tips to remember

Valbona Bushi

Issue date: 10/10/08 Section: News
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I compiled this list over the summer with a teacher of mine, Karen Braun, who has also been a strong proponent of increasing financial awareness.
1) Understand cosigning: Never cosign a credit card application for a friend. You will be equally responsible for any debt they incur. Cosigning means that the second person is liable for the first's debt, whether you're signing with a friend or your parents signed with you.
2) Don't use the cash advance: These usually come with your credit card, but the fees, interest rate, and terms are much worse than regular credit card debt.
3) Pay your bills on time: Pay even if it's just the minimum amount due for credit cards. If the payment is even one day late, your FICO (credit) score will be damaged. Call the company to let them know and see if you can get it to not go against your credit.
4) Learn your credit: Save yourself from making costly mistakes by learning the basics of FICO scores, credit card and student debt, and other financial planning techniques. A great, easy-to-read resource is The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke, by Suze Orman.
5) Ask if it's worth it: Before you buy anything with credit cards, ask yourself if it's worth three times the price. Why? Because of interest, if you only pay the minimum amount due on your credit cards every month, you will eventually pay the credit card company about three times the original purchase price of the item.
6) Relate your expenses to your income: Measure every purchase you make in terms of the time it takes you to earn that money. Do you want a $4 latte from Starbucks? Consider that you would have to work about an hour at a minimum wage job just to pay for it. Luckily, that is only 30 minutes with a Case job, but remember that FICA taxes alone reduce your hourly pay by 7.65 percent. Federal, state, and local income taxes reduce your paycheck even more.
7) Love free things: Make use of all of the free and reduced-priced entertainment available to Case students. Meetings offer some great food and also new friends. You might even discover some leadership skills you didn't know you had. Also, take advantage of work-study jobs as they are usually easier jobs and even allow some studying time while working.
8) Research scholarships: You never know what you could be eligible for, and many local scholarships aren't competitive since many students don't know about them. And always try to buy used books directly from other students.
9) Take out only as many loans as you need: The world will still be out there to be visited after college. You don't want to spend the rest of your life struggling to pay back that vacation.
10) Understand your finance habits and what works best for you: Then, work with it. For example, if you are more likely to spend cash than using credit cards, then don't carry cash around.
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