One year ago, perennial personal finance expert Suze Orman was doling out her tough-love financial advice, including haggling with creditors for lower interest rates and delayed payments.
But now? She’s changing her tune.
“We’re out of options. You can’t call your creditors. They’re done … So you have to generate less expenses and somehow find more money. That’s the goal here,” says Orman.
Finding more money is a tall order, to say the least. Amid the runaway pandemic, the government has gone bust with a record-breaking $572 billion debt and an economy in free fall with nearly 11 million and counting unemployed.
It’s grim and apocalyptic AF. The Pantone 2021 color is a red called That Bitch 2020 Isn’t Over Yet (just kidding, but it literally is gray). And on kitchen tables across America, the bills are piling up — that is, for those lucky enough to still have a kitchen table.
“The eviction moratorium is over,” Orman says. “Very shortly, unless it’s extended, the student loan payment moratorium is over, the mortgage payment moratorium is over, and now you have got to pay your car payments and your car insurance and your life insurance. All of those moratoriums where you had months where you did not have to pay any of those bills, now you do.”
It’s seriously daunting. So, what’s a broke-ass betch to do?
“You have to live below your means but within your needs,” Orman advises. “If you are finding yourself in a situation where you have no money coming in, you’re living off unemployment, and you can’t wait until the stimulus check gets there, then you’re going to have to make some very, very hard decisions in your life.”
Don’t Use Your Stimulus Check For Back Rent
Orman says fans have been sending her pictures of their empty fridges.
“If you are waiting for that stimulus check and you don’t have another penny to your name, I would go and buy canned food with it. I’m not joking. At least if you bought canned chicken, canned salmon, you can feed yourself and your kids. At least project two months’ worth of food for yourself and your family and take care of that and take that one concern off the table.”
If you do owe back rent, Orman says do not use your stimulus to pay it. With no end to the pandemic in sight, you’ll need as much cash reserves as possible. If you can, she suggests moving back in with Mom or Dad, a sibling or a friend until you can get back on your feet.
“If you do not have a job, and you don’t know what you’re going to do, sorry everybody, you have to move out.”
If you’re fortunate enough to be on the other end of the financial spectrum, and your finances are in order, Orman says, be selfless. “If you have a paycheck coming in, you’re relatively secure, you have an apartment, you have food, and you have your next-door neighbor or a friend or a relative, and they’re about to be evicted, they can’t keep their electricity on because it’s been shut off in the middle of winter — help them.” That might be a tall order coming from a country of people who won’t even put a piece of cloth over their face to save lives, but hey, we can dream.
Don’t Take A 401K Loan
Thinking about tapping your 401K for a hardship loan in 2021? Orman says, “Never.” The CARES Act that allowed Americans to withdraw up to $100,000 penalty-free and take up to three years to repay the income tax has expired, so you’ll have to pay your withdrawal back pronto. Plus, in case sh*t really hits the fan, your 401k is protected from bankruptcy.
“If it’s between taking money out of your 401k to get you by, and all you have is enough for one month at most, and you don’t have any prospects on the horizon, I would much rather see you claim bankruptcy now for your credit card debt, and all your debts — except student loan debt, obviously — and be able to keep your 401k money intact and not have any debt. Which is why you want a Roth IRA, because if you had a Roth IRA now and you needed money, you could withdraw it penalty and tax-free.”
Don’t Forget About Saving
Pre-pandemic, Orman said an 8- to 12-month emergency savings is crucial. Today, she says a three-year stash is necessary. It’s a lofty goal for those living hand-to-mouth, but starting somewhere, with any leftover money, is still a start. Orman says she’s partnered with Alliant Credit Union to incentivize people to save $100 in a high yield savings account every month. At the end of 12 months, the credit union will reward brand-new account holders who have a $1,200 balance with a $100 bonus.
Don’t Bank On Student Loan Forgiveness
It remains to be seen if President Biden will succeed in his plan to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for every borrower. “You have to get that this is not a done deal,” she says. “You should continue to do exactly what you can do and act as if is not going to happen. If you’re out of work, just pay as you go, or do an income-based repayment program. Just don’t go into default.”
There’s also an IRS loophole to be aware of. “Don’t be afraid that the amount accruing gets added to the back end of the loan. If nothing changes in 20, 25 years, if you owe more on the student loan than what you’re technically worth, you’re insolvent, and the IRS will most likely forgive it.” Adds Orman, “If you’re making money, you want to be on the standard repayment method.”
Do Consider A Career Change
These tough times are as much about survival in the present as they are about making smart pivots to safeguard yourself financially in the future. Orman says that the pandemic wiping away jobs shouldn’t be your only worry. In case we didn’t have enough to be anxious over, there’s also the threat of artificial intelligence replacing human workers, further destabilizing the gig economy.
“You have to take this time to reimagine yourself, to recreate yourself. And what can you do? Who can you become, where you cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence or a robot? What can you do to create yourself so that you never find yourself in this position again? Because you’re going to have to make the decision. Do you do a temporary fix and just get anything that brings in money? Maybe. But at the same time, what can you do to make this be a permanent fix so that this couldn’t happen to you? Not because of the pandemic, but because of the onslaught of the technological revolution that will absolutely do away with jobs in the future.”
When in doubt, Orman says saving is the name of the game. So, chill with the online shopping. (No, you don’t need the new SKIMS collection.) Paying your bills on time will keep your credit report happy. And stash your cash, in a high yield savings account, preferably. Bottom line, even if you haven’t worn pants in months, you’d better tighten your belt.
Images: Annie Spratt / Unsplash
I don’t need to say it, but times are tough. The changes we have experienced are enough to make anyone run for the hills. And maybe that’s actually not such a bad idea right now, TBH. But as much as you may want to abandon your life and go live full-time on a beach somewhere, there is such a thing called reality. I know, buzzkill. Since these you-know-what times aren’t going back to any semblance of normal soon, it’s time to be practical, consider your options, and make things work.
The good news is, there isn’t only one way to get ahead now. Consider these five creative approaches from the utterly practical (Nike’s “just do it”) to the spiritual (calling on your higher powers) to support your future plans. Your best approach to life and work depends on your current circumstances and needs, skill set, and risk tolerance.
1. Embrace Your Skills—Become A Technical Specialist
Which new technologies can you master right now to become the “go-to” expert in a specific area or tool that is in high demand? Are you a digital marketer or data analyst to the stars (using the term “stars” aspirationally here)? This can be your time to shine! Consider all your current skills to see which ones can fill the demands that companies have right now. For instance, helping companies get online successfully as they move their businesses away from brick-and-mortar stores can be a game-changer. Are there other specialized tools or specific software programs used in your current role, business, or industry that may be critical to ongoing business operations? Identify the sweet spot that you can capitalize on, then let people know how you can help them.
LinkedIn’s list of the ten most in-demand hard skills for 2020 ranges from blockchain to cloud computing to UX design. But if you don’t have these skills now, don’t sweat it. There are a ton of online training courses available, and many are free on YouTube. Additional resources like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, UDemy, Harvard classes from EdX (what, like it’s hard?) are great online tools with so many classes to offer. And according to Forbes, the soft skills you’ll need to succeed in a post-COVID world might not require classes—adaptability, flexibility, critical thinking, and creativity are all things you can practice on your own. Remember, your goal is to become both valued and immediately applicable to potential customer needs.
Power Tip: Don’t forget to brand and capitalize on your expertise by seeding relevant “key words” about your new focus throughout your LinkedIn profile and social media so the AI searches and algorithms identify you as the best potential fit for those seeking your skill set.
2. Follow The Money
Let’s get real: why not be an opportunist? Dig deeper into where the needs for talent are right now. If you’re flexible enough to go where the opportunities are, you can find project-based work. “Have a valid passport, willing to travel”—I see you, Carmen Sandiego. You get the picture—you could get hired to work on important, time-sensitive initiatives that often pay well. Depending on your personality, you also follow your desire to serve. There is likely to be a huge demand for teachers, healthcare workers, and others who know how to deal with trauma and personal service right now as others are hesitant to return to work.
Look at your flexibility and tolerance for risk. Obviously, moving can create opportunities, but is not without higher risks from changing conditions. If you’re amenable, check out other cities and countries, or switch industries. (Might not be such a bad idea to get an international visa… just saying…)
3. From WTF To WFH: Shift To Remote Work Altogether
It’s no surprise that most work is moving online in some ongoing capacity. You probably already know how to work Zoom, but are you comfortable working virtually? There are even more opportunities beyond the “gig economy” as the need for global services increases if you can be time-zone agnostic. There are also multiple platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and other on-demand freelance websites that connect customers with service providers. Consider working remotely for a company directly, or maybe it’s time to work for yourself. If you’re creative and don’t mind the hours you work or prefer working from home, remote work lets you work wherever you are, and in some cases, whenever you want. That means never having to change out of your PJs.
Many digital skills transfer seamlessly across industries. More jobs are conducted with tele-support, no longer requiring face time or presence in a physical work space. According to U.S. News, careers in software and web development, IT management, and accounting are especially good choices for those working remotely because they can be done virtually anywhere with computer access. But currently, some of the most popular remote positions are accountant, customer service representative, project manager, nurse, and writer—which means that there’s a pretty wide range of industries well-suited to this kind of work. So if you don’t mind having technology become your life line (as if it’s not already), consider ongoing WFH to give you more flexibility. What a time saver to create more time, reduce your commute and still add value.
4. Become A Minimalist
…and not just because Marie Kondo says it will spark joy. A smaller footprint is not only good for the environment, but it will also minimize the space you need, which can save you money in the long run. How? Less weight and obligations lower your cost base, which translates into needing less income. Smaller spaces equate to lower rent.
Power Tip: What do you value about your lifestyle? Is it time to focus more on “being” than “doing”? Which begs the question, what is the meaning and significance of work in your life? Looking at the type of work you want to be doing in the world will open up a whole new set of possibilities for how you might live.
5. Start Living Within Your Means
No, really. Why not question everything? When you look at what you need to live and survive (financially, spiritually), maybe there are ways you can cut back. When the economy was on an upswing, money was easy and more was more. That was then; this is now. Perhaps it’s time to consider that less is more.
Power Tip: Bring your spending in line with your income. Where can you reduce your outlays to become more thoughtful? Maybe cheap is the new smart. The more you put into your savings and the lower your costs, the easier it will be to weather a storm. With few people having enough savings to last a month, now is an important time to pad (or start) that emergency fund to provide an extra cushion to extend your ability to get through a period of financial hardship that may be longer than expected.
Only you will know what is the best way for you to adapt to change right now. This truly is an opportunity to focus on what makes sense for you. By knowing what you care about and value, you can make choices that position you for the future. Taking steps that are both practical and personal will equip you to become more resilient to face future challenges.
Image: Magnet.me / Unsplash
Even though more womxn are working and earning higher salaries than ever before and breaking glass ceilings all over the damn place, we’re still behind when it comes to retirement and investing—yet we live longer than men do. So what gives?
Well, a lot of the womxn I know in my life feel like they have time to wait, they can invest later when they have more available cash, after they save for a wedding, or after they pay off student loans or credit card debt. Or it’s just not that important right now. Even worse is my biggest pet peeve: that they can rely on their spouse’s 401(k). In other words, they’re contributing to their spouse’s retirement for THEIR future. Well, I’m here to tell you that in most cases, you’re wrong.
You need to be investing what you can, right now. Not only for your future self, but for your present self. So you can change things in the world, literally put your money where you mouth is (or values are), and invest in ESG or SRI stocks (aka, socially, environmentally, and ethically conscious investments). Plus, if you walk away from a marriage or a relationship, you need to have your own damn money to fall back on. Yes, you can have a healthy relationship while still prioritizing your own financial well-being.
And if you’re over there thinking you’ve got it all figured out because you have a good chunk of money in a savings account, kudos. Money in savings is a GREAT first step, but even in the highest interest savings account you can find, your money is still worth less with each passing year. The only way to combat that decreased buying power is by investing that money in something that beats the rate of inflation (which has been an average of 3.22%/year).
First, I’m going to define a few important terms I’m going to use throughout this article:
Compound Interest/Compounding Returns: Interest/returns paid on both the principal balance and on accrued interest/gains.
Retirement Accounts (SEP IRA, Roth IRA, 403b, 401k, Traditional IRA, etc): A plan for setting aside money to be spent after retirement. For the purposes of this article, the retirement accounts I refer to are all qualified retirement accounts per the IRS. Some of them help you pay less in taxes now (SEP/Traditional IRA 401k), and some help you pay less in taxes later (ROTH). For these accounts, you can’t take your money out without incurring a 10% penalty before the age of 59 ½. This is to incentivize you to keep your money in here, and not touch it until you’re actually retired (and also why I recommend also having savings accounts and non-retirement investment accounts).
Investment/Investment Account: A type of account that is post-tax, doesn’t have any long-term retirement benefits, but money can be withdrawn at any time, regardless of your age.
Inflation: A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.
Why You Need To Invest
We’re going to talk about compound interest here for a minute. One of my strongest beliefs is that you should get retirement and investment accounts set up first, followed by a savings account. That’s because your retirement and investment accounts will generally give you an 8% average return over a 10-year period.
Now we’re going to do some math (I know, but trust me, it’s important).
If you’re 25 and invested $5,000 now, contributed $100/month to retirement for the next 40 years, and retired at 65, you’d have somewhere around $470,467.71. If you waited until you were 30, invested $5,000 and contributed $100/month for 35 years and retired at 35, you’d have $310,851.00. That’s a difference of almost $160,000, and the amount invested only decreased by $6,000 (5 years of $100/month).
Even crazier, if you’re 20 and invested $5,000, contributed $100/month for 45 years, and retired at 65, you’d have around $708,271.99!!
So when I tell you that compound interest is important and that investing something now is better than investing a larger amount in a few years, trust me on it.
How To Invest
Invest in yourself and your future right now, even if it’s only five dollars a month. Something is better than nothing, and like I talked about above, compound interest is your friend when it comes to taking care of your future self.
If you have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:
Opening a retirement (or multiple) accounts (if you don’t have access to one through a job).
If you have one through your work, you want to contribute to both a ROTH and regular option. ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax options help you with taxes.
If you’re self-employed or don’t have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:
Opening two types of retirement accounts: a ROTH and a Traditional IRA (or a SEP IRA if you’re self-employed).
You want to open and contribute to both types of accounts because post-tax ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax contributions help you now when it comes to taxes.
Whether you have a retirement plan offered through your employer or not, I recommend splitting your pre- and post-tax contributions 50/50, so if you can set aside $50/month for now, I’d send $25 to a ROTH and $25 to a Traditional account. I also recommend opening an investment account, then a savings account. I like Ellevest and Betterment.
That’s it. Your step-by-step guide to starting investing today (in like 15 minutes). You’re worth it, and the world needs more womxn investing and taking control of their financial future.
Images: Startup Stock Photos / Pexels
In plain and simple terms, investing is putting money down now in hopes for more money later. But why do we hear time and time again that it’s so important? Well, whether it be to pay off your student loans, save up for your older, richer self, or even for your girls’ trip to Hawaii, investing is a great way to make your money work so you don’t have to. We know it can be scary, but we are here to break it down for you, so you can be well on your way to becoming wealthy like a finance bro… without the douchey attitude.
General Strategies For Investing
Early bird gets the worm: Time in the market always beats “timing” the market. Thanks to the power of compounding, small contributions in the present will reap higher returns than larger contributions later. So start today!
Make a clear plan: Think about your budget. Are you setting aside a part of your monthly savings to invest? Take baby steps even with a small amount of money. For instance, instead of going on an impulsive online shopping spree (been there, done that), set that money aside and invest that bonus. Some apps even allow you to invest using pocket change—who wants coins jangling around in your wallet anyway?
Assess your level of risk: Depending on whether you are 18 or 60, you are going to have vastly different approaches. If your golden days are near, you are better off placing your capital in safer investments, like bonds. If you still have 50 years until retirement, gear your investments toward riskier, but high-yielding investments, like stocks. Allocate your investments according to how much risk you can tolerate.
Different Investment Vehicles
Brokerage Accounts: To buy and sell your investments, you’re going to need a broker. Luckily, opening an online brokerage account is super simple and only takes a few minutes (quicker than your skin care routine, we promise). TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE are great places to begin since they’re user-friendly with a huge wealth of resources.
Mutual Funds: Mutual funds are professionally managed investments that pool money from different investors—almost like a potluck of the finance world where you just show up with whatever the host tells you to bring. They are often one of the best investments you can make, given their low cost and risk. This is because mutual funds spread themselves across a collection of different investments, allowing you to capture the returns of different markets through just one single purchase. As such, these are great for those who want to leave the decisions up to professionals and not go through the work of buying individual stocks and bonds.
Traditional IRA: An Individual Retirement Account (IRA), as the name suggests, is an account for you to save any and all retirement money. These are open to anyone with an income (internships and part-time jobs included). You don’t have to pay tax today on the money you put into this account, which means your money can grow tax-deferred until you start taking it out—aka extra $$ for those golden years. Not to mention that many employers offer to match your IRA contributions, which means even. more. free. money. Why would you not sign up for this?!
Now that we’ve gone over the most common types of investments, let’s hone in on the big money-maker: stocks.
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They say “work hard, play hard,” but here at #HerCapital, we say “invest more, work less” 💪🏽 The topic of finances can seem scary and daunting at times, but we’re here to break it down to make personal finance easy for you 💸 To start today on a light note, here are our favorite throwback lyrics that help explain various investment vehicles! Even if you don’t want to be a billionaire like Bruno Mars, you’ve got a friend in bonds, us, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear 😏👩🏽🤝👩🏻
Like pieces of a pie, buying a “share” in a company entitles you to partial ownership of the company. If the company’s value increases, your investment increases too. Bigger pie, bigger slice! Stocks are awesome investments because amongst the most common securities, they reap the highest returns over the long run. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Consider how active you want to be. Some of us check Instagram every week, some of us check every hour (what else can you do during quarantine?). Similarly, ask yourself how active you want to be with your investments. If you see yourself being an active investor, that means dedicating a bit of energy each week into researching new investments and individually curating your own portfolio. If you see yourself being more passive, go with a robo-advisor, an automated investment management service that can customize a portfolio according to your goals. Betterment is one robo-advisor you can look into.
Choosing a company. When you invest in a company, it is because you believe in their long-term growth. If you are just starting, go with the companies whose products you love, rather than the “hottest” stock at the moment. A great stock comes hand-in-hand with a strong company—think management, strategy, and financials. What is their revenue like? Are they on top of industry trends? What experience does their C-Suite have? Have they been in headlines lately for product launches? There’s quite a bit of research that can go into this, and websites like Seeking Alpha are great places to get your feet wet. But when it comes down to it, just ask yourself—would you be proud to own this company?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Investing is like applying to colleges. You do not just apply to one, even if you are sure about getting in. You hedge your bets and wait for the results. Be sure to diversify and invest in different industries.
That’s all for today—thanks for reading, folks. If you have more questions or want to learn more (why would you not?!), the team at HerCapital would love to help! Comment below, check out our website here and follow us on instagram for more tools and resources @her.capital!
HerCapital’s mission is to empower women to invest in their future. Through virtual events and an online knowledge base, we hope to help women with money management all while building a community of strong women who lift each other up. Click here to check out our website and follow us on our instagram @her.capital!
Images: Austin Distel on Unsplash; her.capital / Instagram (2)
This pandemic is a totally scary, unprecedented time in all aspects of our lives, including finances. Businesses are closing their doors, employees are getting furloughed or laid off, the stock market is plunging (or so I am told by my dad)—if we weren’t worried about our finances before, we certainly are now. During this heightened time of stress, many are struggling to figure out what they can do to ensure financial security. Our advice? Don’t check your 401(k) for a while… it’s only going to make you freak out even more. And to help put your mind at ease and give you tips on actions you can take to protect yourself, we spoke to Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma, about what you should be doing, and the types of mistakes to avoid.
1. Know Your Options
The situation we’re in is a weird one that no one saw coming (well, except the world leaders who were warned about it and tried to ignore the problem, thinking it would go away, but that’s neither here nor there). An important thing to keep in mind is that banks realize we’re in a f*cked up situation right now and may offer you a new plan in response to what’s happening. Lin advises to take matters into your own hands and “call your credit card issuer, as they may offer a hardship plan, which sometimes offer lower interest rates, smaller minimum payments and/or lower penalties.” I’m sure the last thing you want to do now is get on the phone and wait on hold, but you have the time, and it could help you a lot, so just do it.
2. Pay The Minimum Amount Due If You Can
If you aren’t getting paid your usual salary, your hours have been cut, or you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you may be freaking out about paying your credit card bill in the next few months. While it’s usually best to pay in full each month, Lin says, “during times of stretched income, try and pay just the minimum payment to help you avoid late fees or dings to your credit.” The good news is that issuers typically won’t report the late payment until it’s 30 days past due, so you may have a bit of wiggle room. Lin explains, “If you can make your payment before the 30-day mark, you may not have to worry about the late payment being added to your report.” So if you can afford to make that minimum payment, even if it’s a couple of days late, it can save you stress and may not incur late fees, but just make sure you double-check your credit card details.
3. Don’t Default To Swiping Your Credit Card
I don’t know who needs to hear this but STOP online shopping during quarantine… oh wait that’s me
— Linsey Meister (@linseyx5) March 25, 2020
You may want to make purchases on your credit card in order to make ends meet, but there might be better options out there. Lin advises, “If you’re looking for an alternative, often times personal loans will have lower interest rates than credit cards.” He also offers that before you swipe or open up an additional line of credit, you take note of the interest rate on your credit card and make sure you’re not accruing additional interest and fees.
4. Think Twice Before Taking Out A Payday Loan
Before you borrow any money, take a nice hard look at the fine print. Lin cautions, “Payday lenders tend to prey on those in desperate circumstances like these, and these loans can be the beginning of a long cycle of debt.” He advises holding off on these types of loans, as “a payday loan may carry unfavorable terms, including high fees and interest rates.” The best thing to do, he says, would be to look into other options available to you, such as emergency or personal loans.
We’re all feeling all kinds of emotions right now, but it’s important you take care of yourself, and part of taking care of yourself is making sure your finances are in check. Trust me, everyone is in the same boat. When in doubt, look into your options and talk to someone on the phone. There may be solutions there you haven’t thought were possible.
Images: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash; @linseyx5/Twitter
There are only a few things I truly, genuinely love in this world. One of which is money. I f*cking love money! Maybe that’s why I’m a finance major, despite a continuous history of despising any form of math. Even if you are not money-obsessed like me, I’m sure we both want the same thing: financial security. In college, you want to feel at least somewhat capable of funding your nights out, your Postmates deliveries, and general miscellaneous things that pop up. This doesn’t even include, you know, like, your education itself, or textbooks (barf). So I am here as a personal Jordan Belfort, per se, to tell you how to be not be a broke-ass b*tch for the duration of your schooling. I know he’s a stockbroker, and not necessarily an advisor, but just go with it.
Formulate a budget
Please, please, hear me out. I know this sounds like literal hell, but trust me, it makes a difference. I don’t mean you have to make a spreadsheet or comb through your bank statements. You barely have to do any work if you use budgeting apps like Mint or Pocketguard, which allow you to connect the app to your card and see a variety of statistics on where you’re spending your money. Setting a budget will allow you to account for what you’re spending the most on and your overall patterns, and you can only improve your spending when you have a knowledge of its current status. Like, you might think you only spend $100 per month on going out (LMAO), but once you see the hard numbers, it’s a lot harder to lie to yourself. I know you fellow online shopping
addicts lovers have all your credit card information memorized, so let’s put that sh*t to good use for once.
Do not pay full price for niche items or one-time wears
There will be a ton of date parties, dances, and other occasions that you will most likely have to buy stupid sh*t for. Scouring the internet for the cheapest pair of pink cowboy boots might not seem like the most fun use of your time, but a bit of planning and searching when it comes to niche items can save you a ton of money. I am literally giving you a justification to online shop instead of doing homework, so take it! I save money on random clothes by taking advantage of student discounts and using resale websites like Poshmark. I know what you make be thinking, “student discounts for students, groundbreaking.” But there are a lot of programs and/or stores that give you a discount for putting yourself through four years of distress, and all you have to do is ask! Obvious ones include ASOS, TopShop, and Amazon’s student Prime membership, but even Outdoor Voices is now offering an expansive student perk program. Like, sorry, but you don’t need designer go-go boots for your 70s theme party. Go to a cheap store with student discounts or buy used ones.
Have the money conversation
Sometimes the thing that costs us the most is our aversion to any form of an uncomfortable conversation *hits blunt.* The reality is that as you make new friends and meet new people, your financial expectations and ideas of money are simply not always going to match up. This can go both ways and can encompass a ton of things. However, if you are feeling financially stretched, I guarantee you another person in your group is as well. Are you guys all going to split Ubers? Does everyone purchase their own alcohol for pregames or do you all split it? It’s especially important to talk about money with your friends if you’re planning any trips for Spring Break or any other occasion. Differences in travel expectations can create huge rifts within the group. It’s important to address things relating to money so you don’t end up angrily staring at an excessive Venmo charge, or worse, have some bitch ignore your passive-aggressive Venmo request.
Use investing apps
I understand this is technically more long-term, but it is still a great way to lay a foundation for financial independence later on. And don’t get freaked out by how old-fashioned that sentence sounded. Investing apps may sound scary, but they take virtually no skill at all and could probably be utilized by a blind dog. If you spend a lot of money on your debit card, Acorns is a perfect passive investing app that leaves little room for you to f*ck anything up. Acorns rounds up any purchase you make to the next dollar and invests it in things called Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). ETFs are are pretty much the Jennifer Aniston of investments: they’ve only grown in popularity since the 90s and are pretty unproblematic, but not crazy exciting. Acorns usually charges a small fee for use, but people under 24 and in college can use it for free.
If you’re more into having control over what exact investments your money touches, Robinhood allows you to buy and sell stocks without the trading charges you normally have on other large platforms. Again, investing is more of a long-term flex, and you’ll most likely not make any notable amounts of cash to use immediately this way, but if you somehow figure out the next Big Short on a millennial investing app, call me. It’s only fair.
Consider setting up a separate savings for an emergency fund/study abroad
I like my money how I like my carbs: just out of reach. If you have a borderline concerning lack of self-control (guilty as charged!), consider opening up a separate savings/debit account to put money into that you’ll only use for a specific purpose. I did this when I got to school, and many banks don’t charge you to open a new account. I’m going abroad this year, so I’ve been dedicating a portion of each of my paychecks to go toward my separate account, and I don’t let myself touch it at all. This is painful in the moment, as I’d love to keep a little extra money to spend on everyday sh*t, but I also really want to be able to flex on hoes this semester with my study abroad posts. Again, this is a priority for me, but it may not be the same for you, so personalize as you wish.
Hopefully my basic knowledge and inflated ego helped you realize you can still buy the sh*t you want while also being smart with your money. If you’re going to destroy your body with ungodly amounts of stress, sleep, and drinking, you might as well be financially healthy.
Images: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash; Giphy (3)