Must-Do Money Moves Over The Holiday Break

Your top priority over winter break should be to relax and recharge, but consider taking a break from your break to focus on your finances so you’ll be on the right track to a stress-free spring semester. Here are a few “must-dos” to put on your list:


Review your spENDING FROM LAST SEMESTER

Like most students, you may have been surprised at how low you were on cash by the end of the semester. Set aside some time now to review your banking transactions and statements, credit card statements (if you have one) and other receipts to get a better sense of where your money went. To simplify the process, make two lists: one with all your unavoidable expenses, such as tuition, rent, basic food costs and insurance payments; and another with all your non-essential purchases. Take a hard look at that second list and make a pledge to cut back on some of those expenses during the spring semester.


Don’t squander YOUR CASH GIFTS

If you received a cash gift for the holidays, you might be tempted to blow it all on those irresistible post-holiday sales. Before you do, think about your needs for next semester. Will you have enough money for books, school supplies, gas and other school-related needs? At the very least, plan to save 10-20 percent of your extra cash for unexpected expenses like a broken cell phone or car repair. Knowing you have a little cash on the side will ease your mind and allow you to focus on your studies.


Get ready to RE-APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID

While next year may seem like a lifetime away, remember that you must re-apply for financial aid every year. You can submit the federal FAFSA form as early as January 1, 2016 for the 2016-2017 academic year. Your state and school may also require you to re-apply or update your information, so be sure to check your school’s website or contact the financial aid office for information on deadlines and other requirements.


Make a BUDGET FOR YOUR REFUNDS

If you will be receiving a refund from your financial aid award next term, keep in mind that a good portion, if not all, of these funds may be from student loans that you signed up for. These funds will have to be repaid when you graduate or leave school, so it is important to budget and spend them wisely, and make sure you have enough money to last the entire semester. This “Make it Last” calculator can help by giving you an idea of how much you can afford to spend each week.


Earn some Extra Cash

If you think you’ll be running low on money next semester, start looking for some part-time job opportunities or ask about increasing your hours at your current job. The best place to start your job search is right on campus. There are lots of jobs available, from library clerk to food service worker—check with the employment office or website. You might also want to consider capitalizing on your talents to make some extra cash by offering services such as tutoring, babysitting, dog-walking, or repairing cars or electronics.


Do a Little Winter Cleaning

Another great way to reduce stress is to clean out your clutter and get rid of the things you don’t use anymore. You can also earn some fast cash by selling some of your unwanted items such as clothes, skis or electronics. In addition to the physical items, review any monthly subscriptions or memberships you have and think seriously about whether you are really getting your money’s worth. If not, cancel them or find out if you can reduce the amount you are paying each month.

Taking a little time now will allow you to enjoy your well-deserved break, and put you on a “no-worries” path to another successful semester.

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Comments
  • Cynthia Zurinskas

    It is a busy holiday season! But, as the next school quarter begins, life will get busier. Plan now to put incoming tax documents on the bulletin board or in a special file to get ready for tax season.