For the last two years, I have been your Savvy Student. I’ve kept you updated of important events on our Facebook and Twitter, I’ve helped to redesign the Money Smart Seawolves site and have been the defacto graphic designer for all our cool images on our Pinterest and the blog.
As you can imagine, I’ve written a lot of blog posts over the last two years. I’ve shown you how to budget your meal points, ways to make some extra cash, how to stay safe at the ATM, and all the free things you can get on your birthday. Plus there have been countless posts about all of the scholarship opportunities available in the world.
Throughout my time in the financial aid office, I have learned a lot about financial literacy. Being at all of our Money Smart workshops (where you can win free tuition just by attending!) taught me skills that I will use throughout my life to stay out of debt and plan for the future financially. Now that I am getting ready to graduate from Stony Brook, I wanted to share with you a few things I learned that might also help you as you continue on your journey as a Seawolf.
- Budgeting is a necessity. Seriously. Ever get halfway to pay day and suddenly you are broke? Then you can’t remember what you spent all your money on? When bills come due, and you don’t have any money left to pay them, you start to get in trouble. A simple budget allows you to keep track of where your money is going so these things don’t happen. There are a ton of free resources out there that make it so easy, Mint, You Need A Budget, & Pennies are just a few of the free apps out there that make this worth doing.
- Debt is no joke. It sure is easy to get approved for that Macy’s card or that Visa. But it isn’t free money. I’ve seen so many students use it like income with no concept or realization that it will take years to pay it back. If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy it. If you ever want to buy a house someday, you need to be debt free so don’t mess it up now.
- Look at your credit report! It’s government mandated that you get your credit report free once a year from all three agencies. Go to annualcreditreport.com and take a look at yours. You might find errors that need corrected and could affect you big time with getting approved for loans or credit down the road.
- Change your passwords. Identity theft is real and happens all the time. It has already happened to me, but luckily I caught it in time. Staying safe online is super easy if you are responsible with passwords. Use a free password manager like LastPass (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and let it store your passwords so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. That way you can keep them all different, and strong, without being the perfect victim for an identity thief.
- Retirement is not that far away. A few days ago, I posted a retirement calculator on our Facebook page and using it was an eye opener. Putting off saving for retirement will hurt you big time in the long run. Start now and you’ll be able to live comfortably without worry. Social security is not a retirement plan and may not be around when we are ready to stop working.
- Do what is best for you. Maybe budgeting on pen and paper works for you. Maybe apps do. Perhaps paying off your credit card each month is working great. Then again, maybe you know that you are not responsible enough for that right now. Whatever is working for you, and keeping you financially responsible, is the way to go. There are a ton of blogs and online resources geared towards student to provide financial knowledge. Never think you know it all.
And with that, my fellow Seawolves, I bid you adieu. Today is my last day in the financial aid office and I am going to miss being a part of the team here. I leave you in wonderful hands with your new Savvy Student, Ben. I hope that I have helped you learn something new during my time here, or even just made you smile or laugh. Congratulations to my fellow students graduating this month with me. We did it!