T-minus 12 Days!

That’s right, folks. In 12 days, I am getting kicked out of the nest. I have to learn to fly by myself now through this cruel world.

We all need to leave the nest at some point. Courtesy of Google Images.

Okay, that may be exaggerating a little…I won’t be completely on my own. My parents will still let me crash at their place when I want to get out of the city and take a mini-vacation. My mom offered to cook me dinner still so that I won’t starve (because honestly, my cooking skills include only fajita and pasta at this point. I’m hoping this will change when I get in my new kitchen and don’t have my mom or boyfriend cooking for me!).

But I will be paying for everything — rent, utilities, food, etc. — all by myself. It makes me proud and scared out of my mind to say that. My parents can’t really afford to help me out financially, so I really am growing up and doing this on my own.

I saved up money from my two jobs this summer (one which pays a decent wage and gives me a lot of hours, and one which is more laid-back and has less hours to offer) in order to pad my bank account before I have to cut my hours back for school. I plan on working the job that gives me a lot of hours during the school year in order to help with expenses; it’s also a “foot in the door” for me with my future, post-graduation career.

Right now, I am finalizing my budget (and budget binder), organizing and packing to move, and brainstorming more ideas for this blog….so needless to say, I’m a bit busy this week. I’m going to try to give an update soon, including helpful hints on making a budget, creating a budget binder (which is actually really fun) and how to make the leap from your parents’ nest into the big, bad world. Stay tuned!

 

What to do When Your Bank Account Hits Zero…(or less)

It’s the one thing that everyone dreads when they know they have limited funds and don’t have much (or any) cash to make the purchase they are standing in the check-out line for: a declined card.

Yes, this (sort of) happened to me today. And yes, I actually had less than zero in my checking/debit account. How is that possible, you may wonder.

Well, when you shop at a store and pay with a debit card, the cashiers don’t always ask “Debit or credit?” So when my mom and I went shopping for our pre-paid phone cards and groceries late last week — and I paid because she doesn’t get her paycheck until tomorrow — the cashier just entered it as credit. At my bank, this takes about two to three business days to process. When the bank opened this morning, they decided to process all of my transactions at once (lucky me!), resulting in my account being overdrawn.

I was slightly mad at this, as I got the alert email as I headed to buy lunch at work…luckily I had $5 on me to buy chicken and fries, and I refilled the big mug that held my morning coffee with water (which is one of my favorite things: free).

I was able to do a quick fix on my account when I got home from work. I had some money in my savings account, which is attached to my checking account thanks to my bank’s “student account” set up. I put just enough in there to get me out of the negative (-$15) and leave a little bit that can tide me over until my next paycheck comes through Friday.

You won’t always be able to find such a quick fix though, unfortunately. You may not have linked accounts, or a lot of money to cover any overdrawn accounts. Here are a few facts about overdrawing on your account that can be useful to protecting yourself:

  • Most people don’t realize that they have overdrawn their account until it’s too late! It sucks to look at your account an see the negative sign where your balance was, or to have your card denied when trying to pay for something. The best way to insure this does not happen is to:
  • Create a budget!! A budget can be your best friend, especially in college when finances are tight and you don’t always have the ability to generate a large income to cover all of your expenses and then some.
  • According to a study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), overdraft fees can range from $10 to $38, with the median being $27. Banks can also charge an additional, daily fee (such as $5 or $10) for accounts that remain overdrawn for a length of time.

Talk to your bank to find out how they handle overdraft fees. Talk to your parents (or spouse) so that you have a plan if it does happen. Trust me, you don’t want to pay your bank a bunch of money you don’t have because you weren’t careful with what you did have.

What do you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Comment below!

Why I’m Getting This Started

The great majority of college students across the country are attending school on someone else’s dime. Whether it’s government loans or parents paying part of your way (or both), very, very few college students rely completely upon themselves when it comes to finances. In fact, many college students do not know basic finances that they need to know in college and beyond.

Believe me, I am not judging….I actually am one of these students. My parents paid for almost everything for me growing up; when I got my first job at 16, I used what little I earned for time out with friends and shopping trips, asking my parents for extra here and there. As long as the request was reasonable, they didn’t deny me if they were able to help.

It was only when I applied and got accepted to college that I realized how bad off my parents and I were financially. The summer before my first year of college, I had several panic attacks because of the stress and uncertainty of what lay in front of me financially. I spent my first semester not working, stressed about money and how much I had taken out in loans to go to school. My second semester, I took a less than ideal job that paid pretty well for a student with no experience in healthcare (I worked as a psychiatric nursing assistant). 

That next summer, 2013, went a little better for me because I had started building my savings. I lived on campus with a meal plan (paid for by loans), and spent summers at my parents’ home where they bought me food. I found a new job that was less stressful and kept saving while living off student loans (which I didn’t realize was such a bad thing!…but more on that later). 

My parents ended up borrowing a few thousand from me to pay for unexpected medical bills my sophomore year of college. Starting from almost zero in my bank account scared me, but I had a lot of support: my parents paid me back as much as possible, as often as possible; my boyfriend was very willing to spend more nights in cooking and watching movies we already owned, rather than going out to dinner and movies; my friends, many of whom were in school only on loans as well, encouraged and supported me….especially when I got a second job.

I have worked very hard over the last few years to save money up…with good reason. After two years of college, I currently owe over $47,000 in student loan debt! 

I’ve estimated that by the time I finish my undergraduate degree in nursing, I will owe at least $75,000.

 

So I’ve decided it is TIME FOR A CHANGE..

 

I’m taking a hold of my financial future. And I’m starting this blog because I know there are others out there who are in the same place I am, with no idea how to make sense of all of the advice and mumbo-jumbo out there about finances. I’m not a finance major, so everything that I’ll post will be easy to understand for students and post-grads of all paths. 

Check back often for advice on:

  • Budgeting: how to start one, how to tweak it, and why this is as essential as your cell phone!
  • Basic Financial Tips: little tidbits on saving money, making more money, and smart spending
  • DIYs: Do-It-Yourself projects are perfect for college students…it’s cheap, fun, and doesn’t require a lot of time away from your studies
  • …and more!

Stay tuned and let me know what you think by commenting below!