graduation
During my senior year in college I learned to dread the common question “So, what’s next?” Even though I graduated at a more robust economic time (2001), I still found it fairly difficult to land an entry-level position that would make the most of my degree. This year’s graduating seniors may have wondered if there was any way they could avoid unemployment after graduation, adding stress to an already difficult transition. Here is what the graduating class can expect after they hang up their cap and gown:
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cleaning up
Clutter can take over your house and also your finances. I have lived many years with clutter, and I can tell you that living with less has been so much more beneficial to my bank account.

Here are four financial benefits you’ll reap almost immediately after dealing with the clutter.

1. Improved Productivity

Since my line of work is freelance writing, my paycheck depends on how much I get done. I used to struggle getting any work done, because I was constantly bombarded with a mental to do list of all the areas of my home that needed to be cleaned and organized. There is also something so draining about seeing a sink full of dishes and dirty counters.

Strangely enough, getting rid of majority of the visual clutter in my house has made me a better cleaner and a more productive writer. I bet many other professionals will reap similar benefits at their workplace, since clutter can weigh us down without us even us realizing it.
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Should You Co-Sign a Loan?

by Miranda Marquit · 8 comments

co-signing
About halfway through my freshman year in college, the ancient car my parents sent me with died. I decided then that I wanted to buy my own car to replace it. Only problem? I didn’t have the cash to pay for $3,500 car, and I didn’t have the credit to get a car loan.

My parents came to my rescue, agreeing to co-sign a loan for me. They helped me open an account at their credit union and then co-signed on a loan with the lowest interest rate possible. I made payments faithfully until that car was totaled in an accident a couple months before the last payment was due. (The insurance payoff allowed me to finish paying the loan with enough left over to make a 50% down payment on the replacement car, though.)

This arrangement helped me build my credit so that I could get my next car loan on my own merits. And, because I was consistent in my payments, it didn’t harm my parents’ credit, or cost them any money. This isn’t always the case, unfortunately. Before you co-sign a loan, consider that, according to CreditCards.com, 40% of co-signers lose money, and there could be other ramifications.
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start investing
Investing in the stock market can be life changing. Even simply contributing up to the employer match in your 401(k) can drastically change the lifestyle you enjoy during retirement. Though because investing can be life changing, it can also be intimidating. It’s not so much that it’s mentally taxing to invest in the stock market – it’s mostly intimidating because of the emotional aspect of investing. If you are someone who’s intimidated by the power of investing, this post is for you. This post will give you the confidence to begin investing right away.

Set a Goal

It’s important to give yourself a reason to invest. Pick one of two ways to frame your investing goal. The first option is to frame it in a way of looking at what you’ll get by investing: a new Corvette, for example. The second way is to consider what you will lose if you don’t invest: the ability to retire early, time with grand kids, the ability to travel…

Using whichever method works best for you, set a goal. A goal will give you hope. Hope brings action. Action brings the achievement.
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waiting
I’m not much of a rules kinda guy, but the 30 day spending rule is one I really like. The rule is pretty simple – wait 30 days every time you want to make a purchase. Go buy the item if you still think it’s worth the cost after a month, but chances are good your desire to spend faded by then.

In recent memory, I have, at one point or another, wanted to buy the following:

  • New Pair of Jeans
  • A New iPhone
  • Golf Clubs (2 Wedges To Be Exact)
  • Laptop
  • Study Course That’s More Hype than Anything Else

Luckily, none of these “toys” passed the 30-day test. Otherwise, I would have racked up even more debt and be busy regretting my decisions instead of speaking with you.

Adding Some Spice to the Waiting Rule

Okay, that wasn’t crazy interesting. So many of us already know this rule. We either use it already, or we’ve decided that it’s not worth the effort. Either way, we don’t need to read this rule again.
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hobbies
Hobbies, by definition, are something we do for enjoyment. They aren’t activities that we absolutely have to do. That means that in a purely financial sense, spending any money on hobbies — especially when you have other financial concerns like paying for food and shelter — is wrong. The reality of the situation, though, is very different. We all enjoy our hobbies (or we wouldn’t pursue them) and we need that enjoyment almost as much as we need food, if we’re going to live life to the fullest.

But How Much is Too Much?

The problem creeps in when you think about how much different hobbies cost. Photography can be a lot of fun, but you can wind up buying some very expensive equipment. Stamp-collecting can require purchasing stamps that may be worth more than the paper they’re printed on. Skydiving can cost more than $200 for a single jump. But if you enjoy your hobby, those big price tags can mean that your money is well spent: you may be getting a lot more out of spending that money than you would buying a bigger house or saving it up for a rainy day.

There’s no denying that we all need a safety cushion. We each need to have a secure financial basis and spending more than a small portion of your budget on hobbies when you’re not in a great place financially rarely makes sense. Entirely cutting out enjoyable hobbies — especially those that are relatively inexpensive — should generally be a short-term strategy while you resolve other financial issues.

But when your financial house is in order, the question of how much to spend on your hobbies can be much harder to answer. If you don’t actually need a certain amount of money for anything, why shouldn’t you spend it on your hobbies? At the end of the day, money isn’t for hoarding.
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