Learn to Earn

Know what to do with your money once you have it.

Before college

Start by getting organized. Think about your options for paying for school. Do you have savings? Can you get a part-time job and start saving now? Can your parents help? How much money will you need each semester?

During college

Think about how you'll handle your finances while you're in college. Realistically estimate your expenses (remember rent, car payment, tuition, books, clothing, and living expenses). Refer to the Use a Spending Plan While in School Worksheet to help you develop a spending plan for yourself while you're in school.

After college

If you're planning to borrow money for college, it's a good idea to think about how you'll pay it back when you leave college. Payments on student loans are usually delayed until after graduation. But each loan is different and it's important to find out the terms of the loan, when repayment starts, and how much your payments will be before you agree to borrow any loan.

How much money you expect to earn after college plays a big part in how you will manage your money. How much can you really expect to make right after college graduation? Starting salaries for people just entering the job market are almost always lower than they are for people with experience. Your starting salary will probably be higher than someone without your education, but you shouldn't count on the big bucks right away.

You can get an idea about starting salaries for jobs that interest you by looking through the classified ads in your local newspaper, by reading the Occupational Outlook Handbook, or by searching for starting salaries of jobs in your field online.

Don't forget about Uncle Sam. Once you've arrived at a realistic income figure, subtract about one quarter of it for taxes. Divide the remainder by 12 to arrive at your monthly take-home earnings. This amount can be used as the basis for your after-college spending plan.

If you discover problems managing your finances, either while you're in college or after, talk to a local consumer credit counseling service. They offer free help from experienced financial counselors who can give you advice on successful financial management.

Part of the challenge of your life's adventure is paying for it. Start planning now to make sure money is there to help you make education part of your future.

See also

Here are other documents located on AIE.org that you may be interested in: