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By: Alexis Montgomery, Online Colleges

When you contemplate graduation from your institution of higher learning, the first things that come to mind are finding a job and paying off your student loans. This line of thought is very telling in that both of these items address your finances. And truthfully, that is the area that will require the most planning when you graduate. While the prospect of finding a job in our current economy is dicey, there are options for the motivated graduate. Student loan bills, on the other hand, will come to you whether you want them or not.

So in preparation of life after college, you should begin to think about saving some money for a rainy day. Whether you work part-time or you get a stipend, try to give up eating out and shopping on iTunes. Put away a little cash to get you through those first couple of -loan payments instead. Which brings up another point: do you even have a savings account? You may not know this, but checking accounts, while replete with handy tools like checks and an ATM card, do not offer you any kind of interest, which means that money sitting in your checking account is not working for you. Change that as soon as possible. You should also have a credit card. Even if you only use it for gas or snacks, paying it off every month will help to build up your credit score, a necessity if you ever plan on buying a car or signing a lease. But that’s preparing for some vague future in which you can actually afford these expenses. What about saving money now?

One area in which you may be able to save (and every penny counts) is on your taxes. Incentives for students vary by state, but on the federal level, several sizeable credits have recently been offered, so consult with your tax professional to see if you’re eligible (check out the Lifetime Learning and Hope Scholarship Tax Credits as well as the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction, or go to www.irs.gov). You could save up to $2,000, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

If you want to plan a budget for your looming post-graduate life, seek out resources on your campus. It’s likely that there are financial planning services available through the career center, or at the very least, your counselor should be able to recommend some affordable offsite alternatives. Ultimately, it’s up to you to plan for your financial stability once your reach culmination, so don’t leave all the details until the last minute. Being prepared is the best way to ensure that once you graduate, you’ll be ready to face the world head-on.

Alexis Montgomery is a content writer for Online Colleges, where you can browse through various online degree programs to find a college that suits your needs.

Tags : BillsCreditsDebtsExpensesStipendstudent loansTaxes

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