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How to Prepare for the Future…While Still in College

While college is the time to study, make friends, and have fun, it is also the time to start thinking about the future and taking advantage of all the great resources that surround you. It’s way too common, and unfortunately I was no exception, to procrastinate certain actions and steps that can contribute to future success. By engaging in the practices below, you will not only have more money while in college, but you will be better prepared once you leave.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Create a Budget

If this is the first time away from home, it might take a month or two in order to establish a set budget. It’s understandable because you’re not used to buying your own groceries, paying your rent, or dealing with utilities. However, setting and implementing an organized budget plan can be the most efficient savings tool in college.

When setting a budget, be sure to include all monthly expense, including, but not limited to, groceries, utilities, rent, and transportation. Once the budget allocation is determined, try and stay on that path as strictly as possible. If over pacing occurs, which is always inevitable, try and level things out by slowing the pace of another expense.

 Refrain from Impulse Buys

Impulse buys are the death of maintaining a good budget.  While everything might seem like the apple of your eye…it’s not.  Don’t give in to little things than can off set your budget. Whether it’s accessories, entertainment, food, or drinks, all these little things add up and make a huge dent it your budget.

In regards to purchases, why not take frugal buying a step further. I suggest buying generic brands when possible, taking public transportation when given the option, renting text books instead of buying, and choosing the optimal meal plan for your appetite. These are just a few of the indefinite ways you can reduce your expenses.

Enroll in a Financial Course

While a personal finance class might not be required for all majors, I strongly suggest that every student enroll in a personal finance course before graduating. A personal finance course teaches you how to budget correctly, pay off debts, invest properly, build good credit, and correctly pay taxes. But above all, this class instills that the key to both short and long term success is implementing a personal finance plan.

Network Right Out of the Gate

While this might sound like a no brainer, most students either procrastinate or fail all together to utilize their career center and other campus networking resources. Some students create excuses to delay their networking such as “I have plenty of time to find a job” or “I’m going into a family business anyways”. Newsflash, it’s never too early to start networking, and you can never have too many friends or connections.

While career centers are great for finding information on careers or industries, career fairs are a fantastic resource for creating actual connections in a specific company or industry. A common misconception is that network events and career fairs are only for seniors and recent graduates. If eligible, attend any and every networking event available.  Building relationships is key for any career path, and making connections early on will only expedite this process.

And now for the double edged sword: social networks. If used correctly, these networks cannot only increase your chances of landing a job, but also help your chances of finding a job. LinkedIn is a useful tool that not only allows you to show off your social ability, but also your professionalism and experience. However, if used incorrectly, networks like Facebook or Twitter could be the reason you don’t get hired in the first place. It’s important to be cautious about what is posted online; you never know who is watching.

Know Excel like the Back of Your Hand

Microsoft Excel might be the most useful, powerful, and widely utilized programs in the work world today. While being knowledgeable is excel is a common qualification for most job posting in any industry today, being proficient in Excel can be that unique skillset that differentiates you from the other applicants. If your university offers a course in advance Excel applications, take it.

This post is contributed by Skyo, an online site that helps college students save money with cheap textbooks and flexible rental options.

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