Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Finding the Time

One of the greatest assets after graduation is the connections you make in your workplace from your internship.  An internship is the number one thing I tell incoming freshmen to focus on while they are in school.  Start early (right after your freshman year, even!) and do them often! Of course - during the school year, it can be a little trickier to find the perfect balance between classes, your internship, a part-time job, campus organizations, and down-time. But, it's not impossible to do it all. I was there.  I was the girl who was working a 10-hour internship and a 15-hour part-time job.  I was on a leadership position in two Greek organizations.  I was involved on the campus activities board.  I was taking a full-time course load.  You can do it all...It just takes strong will, a good sense of organization, and the ability to prioritize.  Plus, being able to successfully multi-task wouldn't hurt either.

My best friend during my spring 2013 semester was my planner and my phone.  I synced my phone to my iCal and had all my classes and meetings on there. I used my planner to make lists of everything I needed to accomplish on that day.  I was always on my phone so that was where my schedule was most up to date and thats what I started referencing a lot more as the semester went on.  It was a tough semester - I would leave for my 10 AM class and not come back to my house until 5 PM, only to stay long enough to eat and then be back on my way to meetings until 9.  I was definitely my most prepared as far as classes went because I didn't have time to fall behind.  To have a semester that hectic, you teach yourself how to be disciplined and not check Facebook every ten minutes of studying.

In the end, it was totally worth it.  Pushing yourself to that level and realizing that you are succeeding is the best feeling in the world.  It really is a way to see how much you have grown as an individual and how much more responsible you are.  It also makes you appreciate the time you have to yourself a lot more.

One tip to note - the perfect balance is changes semester to semester. Sometimes it can even change within the semester. It's just important to stay adaptable to the situation and learn from your mistakes.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Money 101 for the Struggling College Student

Too often than not, I see my friends spending money like they don't have to worry about saving up for anything. If there world was really that perfect, then I am genuinely jealous, but also sad because the feeling of saving up for something and then buying it is such a worthwhile feeling! I don't know about you, but it makes me want it so much more, and I take better care of it if I am using my own money to buy it.

It frustrates me to see people wasting money when I know they should be saving it.  I feel like the financial illiteracy of our generation is going to screw us up.  My sister and brother-in-law will end up debt-free from dental school in two years because they are saving and putting money aside and trying not to take out loans.  I just wish more of my friends have that mentality instead of putting it off until later.

So for those of you who are interested in saving money, the first step you should take is to live by the 50/20/30 method. 50% should go to the essentials - rent, gas, bills, food. 20% should go toward your future - paying off debt, saving for a vacation, etc. 30% should go to your lifestyle - eating out, shopping, vacations, etc. Even just allocating that money will make you reel in your spending habits and set boundaries.

I am trying to be a lot better about this.  I recently downloaded the app Mint, which connects your bank accounts and credit cards so you can see how much you are spending by category. It scared me to see that every month I was spending way more than what I was making.

They say it takes 30 days to make or break a habit.  Hopefully within a few months I'll be able to have my finances in a comfortable state and I'll be saying that I am successfully saving up for my future.

If you want to know more, I would recommend reading this article from Target.  It is what really gave me a good wakeup call and gave me the steps I needed to take to regain control of my finances.