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Money Management for College Students

By Trilogy Financial
September 23, 2019
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For many young adults, college is the first time they are independently managing their own money. It can be a time marked with excitement and new opportunities, or anxiety and worry. Financial skills built at this time can have long-lasting benefits. Likewise, money mistakes made now will carry on into their future. That is why about 70 percent of college students worry about their finances[i]. However, with the right skills and habits, this can be a great time to lay a strong foundation for their future financial independence.

The first financial decision that most college students encounter are student loans. Before taking out student loans, make sure to explore other financial aid options, such as scholarships and tuition assistance from participating employers. Also, don’t forget the option of going to local community colleges for the first couple of years. If student loans are an option, it is best to resist the temptation to take the maximum amount one qualifies for. Instead, borrow only what is needed. This will help in the long run. College is an investment, and students need to be sure that their rate of return is worth it.

It is imperative that young people know how to budget, but unfortunately, that’s largely not the case. In fact, 43 percent of college students don’t track their spending[ii]. This is particularly crucial for those who have student loans. You can help your young people early by introducing them to the concept of budgeting well before you’re packing them up for college. A budget is not simply an account of where one’s money goes. It aids in making decisions, establishing financial priorities, and staying aware of how your money is working for you. Please always remind your college students that the less they spend now, the more they’ll be able to move forward in the future.

Another common first for college students is the first credit card. Credit cards are a good tool to establish small lines of credit, but monthly balances should always be paid off immediately. Not only does this avoid late fees, but it also avoids interest building on purchases. Also, protecting personal information is imperative. Students need to constantly be aware of who they are giving their information to and what is being charged to their account.

College is a busy time full of “firsts”. These experiences can have long-reaching consequences. Help your college students prepare a solid foundation to their financial independence by providing them with the proper education and tools for a bright financial future.



The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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Jim Young
July 21, 2022

Ok now that you’ve recovered from falling off your chair after reading the tile of this blog, let me explain.

Inflation is one of the biggest challenges in achieving, and maintaining, financial independence. The low inflation we have experienced for decades has made many of us lazy when it comes to spending.  Now is the time to put some great habits into place that will reduce your spending now and will help even more when inflation get’s back to historical norms.

Here are some tips:

  1.  The days of clipping coupons seems to be a thing of the past.  Time to resurrect this time-tested way to save money.  Now it’s done electronically.  Click here for a great article on coupon apps.
  2. Bargain shop.  The meat department is the best place to shop for deals.  Supermarkets would rather greatly reduce the price on meat than throw it away.  I’ve seen bargains at 50% off.  And not to worry, the meat is still good.
  3. Dump the name brands.  I am a big name-brand guy however that is changing.  You can save 30-50% on certain items by going with the store brand such as Kroger at Ralphs.  Just today we saved 30% on peanut butter and couldn’t tell the difference.
  4. Use those credit card miles.  If you fly Southwest use their Chase Rewards Card.  This year alone I flew two of us to Hawaii roundtrip and flew myself to NY and used my miles.  Pretty much all carriers have credit cards they use for miles.
  5. If you shop at Ralphs use their Ralph’s Reward Card.  They have a great app that shows you year to date savings.  We have saved $500 so far this year.  You also get fuel points that you can used at Shell Stations.  I’ve saved as much as $.50 per gallon!
  6. This one is real hard for me but try to walk out of restaurants with a doggie bag.  I’m the type of person that if something is real good, I’ll clean my plate (thanks mom!).  But with portion sizes so big you should have no problem making two meals out of one.  Your wallet and belly with thank you!


These are just a few habits to help get you through this time of high inflation that could help your plan when inflation gets back to “normal”.

Jeff Motske, CFP®
August 4, 2020

Recently, I came across two competing headlines: “Dow Dropped Because the Wheels are Coming Off” and “The Dow is Up Because there are Flashes of Optimism.” On any given day, financial markets swing—one-day values are up and the next they are down. Trying to figure out how to build your wealth by focusing on market ups and downs can be overwhelming. I choose to champion an altogether different approach—behavioral finance. I believe the key to long-lasting financial independence lies in individual behavior inasmuch as it does the markets or various investment tools. Knowing that success lies within you – your choices, your responses to the market, and your long-term habits over time – rather than in the whims of the market, keeps you on the road to financial freedom.

Dangers to your wealth aren’t so much the downturns in the market as they are your own biases and emotions. Behavioral finance requires discipline and rational thought processes which can present challenges for many investors. We may feel obligated to put our kids through colleges we really can’t afford. Keeping up with the Joneses can deplete our savings or prompt us to invest in things that aren’t aligned with our long-term financial plan. And, in times of stress or change, we may be tempted to react by pulling our money out of the market or by doubling down on an investment. Such actions might play out well in our heads but disastrously so in real life. Ultimately, behavioral finance shows us that individuals carry much of the responsibility for their own financial success.

When you assume this responsibility, it becomes clear that you also gain control of your financial future. You have the ability to build wealth and establish a sense of security without worrying about the market. After all, it is the plan and the decisions you make (or don’t make) that have the greatest impact on your journey to financial independence. So, you may wonder, how do I embrace this concept of behavioral finance? First, you have to do some analysis – predominantly on yourself. What kind of spender/saver are you? Is your money going towards your goals and values? Are there steps you should take to limit habits that lead to unhelpful emotional responses? Besides self-reflection, you will need to create a financial plan. Whenever you are tempted to pursue a course of action, pause, and make sure it is in line with your plan’s goals. If it’s not, you must weigh the risks against the rewards. For those situations that require deeper insight, another great tool is a trusted financial advisor. Their expertise and guidance will be an invaluable resource as you strive to build wealth and turn your dreams into reality.

You have a multitude of tools at your disposal once you realize that financial independence is yours to create. It will take work, discipline, and time, but with that comes agency and autonomy. Start planning now so you can start making the decisions and exhibiting the behaviors that will set you up for a prosperous future.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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