College Grads: 3 Ways You Can Better Budget Your Paycheck

June is the the time of year that newly-minted graduates are headed off into a world of resumes, interviews and call-backs, all of which will hopefully lead to a job  and that much-needed paycheck. While most young adults don’t like to be told how to spend their money, planning for your first month’s income isn’t an easy task.

Instead of learning the hard way, I urge college grads to put some thought into their budgets before they even receive their first paycheck. Take the guess work out of your personal finances, and read these tips on how to properly spend and save your money.

Plan for taxes: Depending on which state you live in and your household situation, taxes can take a huge chunk out of your paycheck. To better estimate that amount, use a free paycheck calculator online. Also, start thinking of withholding as a means of saving. More withholding means a larger refund, which could be used to pay off student loans faster, or it could go towards a down payment on a car.

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Pay for Tuition With 2010’s Education Tax Breaks

With alarming spikes in tuition, college students and their parents are wondering if a higher education is obtainable only to the wealthy. However, there’s hope on the horizon. Uncle Sam is lending a hand with several tax breaks that could save families thousands.

Whether you’re a college student and claiming yourself this year, or you’re a parent who has a child in school, check out these tax breaks that are sure to pick up on some of the tuition tab:


The American Opportunity Credit is similar to 2009’s Hope Credit, but even better. The credit was created to offset the increasing costs of tuition, and it provides up to $2,500 per college student. It allows taxpayers to claim tuition and certain fees for higher education, but these expenses can only be claimed for the first four years of college. Parents can receive a credit of up to $7,500 if they claim three qualifying college students.

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How to Have a Productive Spring Break

Let’s face it. As college students, we never get breaks. A lot of us have to use Spring Break as a time to get caught up on the tasks that are impossible to complete when school is in session.

If you know you’ll want to get your to-dos out of the way, check out ways you can make your Spring Break even more productive.

Make a list: Start by jotting down your most important honey-dos. Think about all those errands you’ve been wanting to take care of. Maybe you need to get your oil changed, or maybe you haven’t had time to file your tax return. Whatever your to-do list consists of, you’ll feel better knowing that you took care of those tasks before going back to school.

Make appointments: Whether it be your dentist, auto mechanic or hairstylist, start making appointments with them now so you can knock them out during your Spring Break. Some doctors’ offices might already be booked up for the week. See if you can get referrals to other doctors that have open slots.

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Rhode Island Taxing College Students

Students in Rhode Island are facing a possible $300 enrollment tax.

Everyone knows that college is expensive. You have to pay for books, room and board, transportation, food, and of course classes. Then, when you consider that most college students are not working full time and therefore are not raking in the dough, it’s understandable why college students are, stereotypically, always broke. So then, why is the mayor of Providence trying to tax college students in an effort to pay off the city’s $17 million deficit? Read the rest of this entry »

2009 FAFSA Means it’s Financial Aid Season

For many students, or their parents, this is the time to start filing taxes and getting refunds from the government. For many seniors in high school and other college students, tax season also means financial aid season.

On January 1, FAFSA released their form for this year to be completed in order to be considered for governmental aid for college. Much like the CSS Profile, the FAFSA uses information based off of your parents’ and even your taxes. Although unlike the Profile, FAFSA uses last year’s tax information while the Profile used 2007, but this is probably because it was due so much earlier for many schools. Also, on the FAFSA, your family’s EFC is calculated. The EFC is the Expected Family Contribution and, as it says in the name, this amount of money is what your family is expected to pay towards your education. This is based on income, number of people in your household, whether or not your parents’ marital status, and many different aspects that could affect you and your family being able to afford college. Even if you believe your EFC will be high, or you think your parents make too much to award any aid, I highly advise filling out the FAFSA because you never know what could turn up!

As the time creeps closer to taxes being due, keep in mind financial aid is due for your colleges! Your application process isn’t complete until all necessary information is turned into your colleges, including financial information.

Obama’s Tax Cut Calculator

We’ve heard a lot about taxes in this campaign- but does anyone really know what they stand to save when either of the candidates are elected? All this talk about dollars and percentages, tax credits, retirement savings – it’s a lot.

So the Obama campaign has made it very simple. This new Obama Tax Cut Calculator explains exactly what you or your household stand to save under his administration.

For example:

Your income is $20,000/year (or less), you’re single with zero dependents and zero child care costs, you’re under age 65, do not have a mortgage and do have college expenses – you would receive a $1,000 tax savings from Obama with a $4,000 tax credit to put toward college expenses. It also shows that under McCain, you would receive a $0 savings.

Learn more about Obama’s and McCain’s positions on education.


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