4 Financial Takeaways from “More Money, Please” by Scott Gamm

Students know how important money management is, but sometimes dealing with our finances gets pushed to the back burner.

My new book, MORE MONEY, PLEASE: The Financial Secrets You Never Learned in School (Plume/Penguin) centers around one common theme: personal finance doesn’t have to be intimidating – or boring, for that matter.

If you’re determined to get your finances on track, but are unsure of where to start, here are a few pointers from the book to give you a head start:

1. Start with some goals and a budget

Where do you want to be, financially speaking, in five years? Maybe you want to be free of credit card debt or have enough money saved in an emergency savings fund – or perhaps just enough money saved for one incredible vacation?

Regardless of what they are, own up to them. Write them down and embrace your goals.

Then it’s time to figure out a plan to get there. That’s where a budget comes in handy. To create a budget that works, it’s critical to keep track of how much you spend, even if it’s for just a few months (since expense tracking can be tough to stick to). From there, you can examine your expenses and see which ones are frivolous, which will help free up some money to be directed into a savings account.

2. Change the way you think about credit cards

Credit cards are another hurdle for students. The key concept to remember is that a credit card is a tool for building good credit, instead of a way to extend your spending habits. So use your credit cards for small purchases – and pay off the balance in full. It sounds easy – because it is! Stick to this plan.

3. Pay off credit card debt…pronto!

If you have credit card debt across multiple credit cards, the most cost effective way to pay off your credit card debt is to focus on the card with the highest interest rate first, since that’s the card costing you the most money. To get out of debt, it’s simply not enough to only pay the minimum payment. If you can pay double the minimum payment, you’ll be out of debt in roughly two years. But even if you can pay $10-20 more than the minimum, that will still make an impact.

4. Start saving for retirement

When you start working full-time, if your employer contributes to your 401(k), then you should contribute, too – up to the employer’s match – since that’s free money. But if they don’t contribute anything, or perhaps you’re freelancing and your employer doesn’t even offer a 401(k), there are alternatives. Meet the Roth IRA: an account where you contribute money that you’ve already paid taxes on and your money will grow tax deferred. And you can open up one online in minutes at a discount brokerage firm. But start soon, because the earlier you start saving, even if you can’t afford to contribute significantly, the more you’ll end up with by the time you retire, thanks to compounding interest.

Scott Gamm is the founder of HelpSaveMyDollars.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Would you like to order a copy of Scott’s new book? Click here.

This article has been posted for your edification.  The views expresses in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Higher One, Inc. In addition, the posting of this article by no means represents an endorsement by Higher One, Inc. of any of the products or services that may be included therein.

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