“I never learned that in college.”

“Nobody taught me that.”

How to save money

I’m ashamed over how many times I’ve had to repeat those phrases. I don’t want this to happen to you.

This article is for students, folks in trades, young professionals, hard working people, athletes, brutes, mercenaries, savages, and everyone that doesn’t know the secret rules of money in their 20s.

This one article alone is going to share with you all of the secrets about money that you need to know that you just won’t find in school or anywhere else.

Rule #1: It’s easier to save money, but it’s better to make more money.

I don’t care about how much you saved by staying in the last six months. I don’t care how much you save on food because I enjoy my steak. I don’t care about the money that you save by brewing your own coffee.

Here’s my question for you…

How much more money did you make in the last month?

Actually, a few more questions…

Did you increase your income this year? Did you upgrade your skills?

Any fool can read a frugality blog and never go out again. A real financial stud goes after the money and creates opportunities to make more money. Making more money is better than trying to save every penny.

[Recommended read: How-to start an online business in six easy steps.]

Rule #2: You can’t always do the math.

Please, don’t always try to add the numbers. Personal finance isn’t always about the numbers. There are times where you can’t stress about the bottom life.

For example, at your best friend’s birthday or stag, there’s no budget.

Another great example is my strategy for getting ahead.

I believe that you should take successful people out to pick their brain.

This obvious means spending money. You can’t worry about it.

I also believe in investing in yourself.

Some of this will go against typical frugality advice. That’s okay.

[Must read: The 8 golden rules of money for dudes in their 20s.]

Rule #3: You don’t have to spend money on drinks to meet girls.

“Are you going to get me a drink?”

A young lady had the nerve to ask my cousin this before even engaging in conversation.

What did he do? He agreed to get her a drink. He got her a refreshing glass of water. Her reaction was priceless.

You don’t want to meet someone like that.

Uniforms don’t win games. You don’t have to buy money for random girls to look cool. You can have fun in college without blowing your savings on booze and club entry. You can date without blowing your checks on the weekend.

 Rule #4: You always have to live within your means.

“When you cut your expenses to the bone, you have a surplus. The surplus allows you to be generous, which mysteriously turns around and makes your surplus even bigger.” — Seth Godin

There’s big difference where you want to be and where you are when it comes to money.

Accept this. Don’t try to be a baller if you can’t afford to pay your cellphone bill. Don’t try to eat out frequently if you’re struggling to keep the electricity on.

Never forget your current financial situation. Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not. Buying business cards doesn’t make you an entrepreneur.

[If you're in debt: How-to crush your debt!]

Rule #5: You don’t have to buy a damn home!

I could rant on this one forever. I won’t today.

You don’t have to buy a house in your 20s. It’s okay to rent. You can rent for as long as you want. Buying a home isn’t the next logical step when you start working.

For more, check out my newest project, The Property Dude.

Rule #6: You don’t have to marry the next person you lock eyes with.

Get out there. Date. Date lots of people. Have fun. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Break some hearts.

You don’t have to marry the next person you meet!

“I would be so much further ahead if I never got married.”

This is what one of my most successful friends told me.

You can lecture me and try to find examples of successful couples. That’s cool. I’m not saying that this 100% perfect. Being single can get lonely at times. I get that.

However, I want you to have goals, plans, and dreams to chase.

[Read: The cure for boredom.]

Those are the secret money rules that nobody else will share with you. Save this page. Share it with a friend (mandatory). These are the secret rules of money.

You don’t want to be completely clueless on the unwritten rules of money. I learned all of these the hard way. You better respect these rules or we’re going to have problems.

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” — Oscar Wilde

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“The numbers say it all: Since 1985, the price of college has increased a staggering 538%. Average student loan debt is approaching $30,000 per grad. And more than 50% of recent grads are either jobless or underemployed.”

I won’t let anyone that reads Studenomics to end up in such a horrible situation.

That’s a pretty scary statement that I found over at Forbes. This gave me no choice but to put together an article on my personal story of how I graduated college without any debt.

With the school year rolling, I wanted to tie everything in about surviving college financially. I actually get sick when I read stats about how screwed college graduates are financially. I hate hearing about student debt. I hate it even more when students assume they have to get into debt to finish school.

Guess what? I graduated debt-free and I didn’t miss out on any fun. I wasn’t a nerd that stayed in either. I was the life of every party that I attended. I had a blast in college and survived financially. I’m telling you this because I want to challenge the whole notion of student debt.

This is my story. I’m not lecturing. This is what worked for you. It could work for you.

[Must read: How I graduated college debt-free.]

What did I do to graduate debt-free without missing out on the fun?

I attended a community college first.

I knew that I wasn’t ready for college or to move away for school. This is why I decided to attend a community college in town first. This was the best decision that I ever made. The classes were tight, I took the studies seriously, I worked full-time, and I prepared myself for further studies.

You can save a decent chunk of change as a student by starting at a community college. You don’t have to attend a large school for four years for every single program. It’s okay to attend the school that you want to, and not the one your parents want you to attend.

I always saved money on textbooks/tuition.

You have to find a way to cut back on textbooks and tuition. There’s no way around this. These expenses will destroy if you don’t get a little creative.

When it comes to textbooks, I did the following:

  • Shared with friends.
  • Didn’t buy if the class didn’t require them.
  • Bought used.
  • Bought older versions of the text.

[I've actually partnered with a company to get an exclusive offer for readers of Studenomics that want to rent textbooks. Check out http://bit.ly/studtitto and use the code STUD10 to get $10 off your first rental.]

With tuition, the following hacks helped me:

  • Enrolling part-time and taking a full course load.
  • Summer courses.
  • Applying for bursaries/free money.

You can’t just accept what your college charges you for tuition/textbooks. You have to find a way to save money. I knew this and knew that I couldn’t slack off in this area.

I had a girlfriend throughout my studies.

Not sure what this has to do with anything. I just noticed that many of my single friends blew lots of money because they were always out looking to party and hook up.

I watched out with credit cards.

This is huge. I’m not in the ranting mood today. We all know how bad credit card debt is. I don’t need to lecture you.

Just please, for the sake of your future, try not to spend money that you don’t have.

[Must read: How-to master student credit cards.]

I stayed at home.

Staying at home helped me save a ton of money. This wasn’t the best option because I missed out on some fun and independence.

The good news was that the savings made it worth it and I was able to travel in college.

Can you stay at home to save some money?

I partied on a budget.

The following paragraph will save your 20s. You can party like me and live life. I never missed out on any fun. I always had a blast. I wasn’t the guy that stayed at home. I enjoyed being social.

You just have to accept that you can’t drink 5 days a week. It’s okay to save your parties for the weekends when all of your work is done.

Do NOT get into student debt. Avoid it all costs.

Please do whatever it takes to avoid student loans if you can.

How are other students saving money on college? I found another great article over at Forbes on this topic:

  • 69% Opting to attend institutions in-state.
  • 61% Living closer to home to reduce travel expenses.
  • 54% Living at home or with relatives.
  • 42% Filing for education tax credits.
  • 34% Choosing to attend 2 year public institutions.
  • 28% Accelerating the pace of coursework.

This means that you don’t have to accept a student mortgage! I challenge you to open your mind and to stop accepting everything as is.

Don’t forget to check out the five books that changed my life while you’re figuring things out.

And trust me, life’s so much more fun after college. You don’t want debt to get in the way.

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If my readers don’t succeed, I’m a failure. Studenomics is all about you guys and helping you reach financial freedom.

Help a reader pay off debt

Today we’re all going back to school. We’re going to help a reader figure out her finances, get out of debt, and live a better life where money isn’t an issue.

Welcome Jacquelyn, a young lady looking to slap her debt around and live a better life.

Before anything else is said, I need to thank Jacquelyn for having the guts to do this. She’s fully transparent about her finances. So please go easy on her. She didn’t have to do this, but she’s serious about improving her situation.

What’s Jacquelyn’s current situation?

First, let’s look at her debt/banking setup.

Credit Union of Denver:

Savings: 584.09
Checking: 764.72

Credit Union of Denver Credit Card:

$1,250.43 @ 9.4%
Credit Limit = $2,000.00

Discover:

$771.21 @ 3.99% until 12/2014
Credit Limit = $1000.00

Capital One:

$4,637.25 @ 20.99%
Credit Limit = $7,500.00

Zales:

$2,000.00 have until 12/9/14 to pay off interest-free.

MyFedLoan:

$23,132 @ 6.55% (Direct Debit)

AESuccess:

$4,157 @ 6.55% (Direct Debit)

Fox Valley CU:

Savings: $37.03

Retirement:
$404.69 = Vested Balance

What are the fixed expenses like?

  • Rent is $572.50 currently with utilities averaging from $90-100/month. All amounts are debited from my account and roommate pays back in cash.
  • Loans debit $360.05 every month.
  • My phone bill is $70/month on average.
  • Renter’s insurance is $20.17 monthly.
  • My Tollway Transponder is about $50/month.
  • Spotify is $9.99/month.
  • LA Tan is $2.99/month since I have it frozen (haven’t used it in years).
  • Automobile Gas ranges from $200-300/month.

What are the problem areas for Jacquelyn?

I asked to see what the major issues were. According to her, the problems are:

  • The amounts I pay for my credit cards are not consistent and are what I’m trying to fix.
  • Will be moving so that’s where my money will be directed.
  • Right now, I am trying to figure out a cheaper way to work because it takes a tank and a half every week with this new job since it’s so far from me.
  • My starter went out in Canada which is why my Capital One balance went up significantly because I was a bit strapped.
  • I try to be more aware but I catch myself with the mindset of “oh it’s just $10″. Recently spent $60 on a date night.
  • We have started cooking in more, instead of going out to eat, that saves lots of money, but I get bored in my apartment.
  • Need a structured system for paying off debt.

What other financials should you know?

I got a new job as a Manager in Chicago making $55,000.00 annually. I make an extra $8,000 with this new job.

I’ll be looking into getting a job at the airport once we have moved to make extra cash and save on flights to see family.

We will be moving in together the end of August. Partner has been helping making some payments on the Capitol One credit card. I’ve asked her to help me with the Discover to get that one down to $0 then chipping away at Capitol One. She’s on board.

###

Let’s look at Jacquelyn’s spending in August!

Huge props to Jacquelyn for doing this. I’m so proud of her for sticking through the whole month and not giving up.

August results:

  • Money spent: $4501.6
  • Income: $5,595.75

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.21.45 PM

(I messed up the chart a bit because I suck at editing. The information is all there though. Click on it for a full view.)

How can Jacquelyn improve her financial situation and destroy the debt?

I can’t really sugarcoat it. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Jacquelyn can easily get out of debt and reach financial freedom. The bad news is that it won’t be easy, it’s going to take a long time, and she’s going to have to sacrifice. She makes more money than people that have killed more debt. She’s young and ambitious.

I always tell my friends that you can’t get mad about the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.

My tips are simple and are designed to provide structure:

Focus on debt 100%!

First, find a debt strategy that works for you.

You can either attack the lowest debt first or the one with the highest interest rate. You can also consider consolidating your debts.

Then, you focus on this debt 100%. Your goal should be to pay off your debt. This should be all that you think about 24/7. This is your project for the next little while. You need to kill the debt so that you can enjoy life.

You should put every extra dollar towards the debt.

I would even go as far as to suggest selling some stuff. Host a yard sale, put some stuff up on Kijiji, and get rid of it for money.

Cut back expenses.

There are two ways to cut back on expenses:

  1. The major/fixed purchases. I would suggest cutting back the cell phone plan, finding a way to carpool to work/take the bus, and even consider selling the car.
  2. Everyday life. It’s cool to go for coffee. I’m the biggest caffeine addict. The thing is, there’s no reason to be spending $10 or $15 on one Starbucks trip.

Work more.

You can’t avoid this one. You have to work more. You already know this though. You may have to find a part-time job on the weekends to help out with payments. Since your partner is on board, maybe you can try finding work together on the weekends.

Have fun on the cheap.

The trick to staying sane is to get wild without going broke. I still want you to have fun. Just try to do it on the cheap. Drink at home, host house parties, stay local, and try take advantage of free events in your community.

What are some must read articles?

It’s time to go back to school if you’re not 100% on top of your finances. Actually, this is the opposite of school. Lame personal finance advice comes to Studenomics to die.

I didn’t want to repeat myself so I’m sharing the must read articles for Jacquelyn and all readers in a similar situation.

How-to drink without going broke — This is key. I can’t tell anyone not to party. I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite. I can only suggest ways to save money on this expense and to not let it consume your life.

Start an online business in 6 easy steps — You can start your own online business and make money in the future (it won’t be easy). This is a fun hobby that could POSSIBLY lead to money down the road.

How you can save $25k by 25 — Proven tactics that have worked for me. No excuses! The title says it all and it applies to every age.

The ultimate guide to crushing your debt — Over 2,000 words on destroying your debt. The best possible guide on the whole damn web. You’ll find a strategy that works for you in here.

Add play to your life and never feel miserable again — A quick guide to helping you feel good. Being in debt can really bring you down. You need to do everything possible to stay positive.

That’s enough for now, I don’t want you to experience information overload.

This is just the beginning of the journey for Jacquelyn. I’ve helped many readers reach their financial goals. This is the first time that I’m actually doing it in such a public forum.

It’s time for you guys to help out. What advice do you have to share? What has worked for you?

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Student credit cards are evil.

Credit cards for college students are the best tool to build your credit.

One of those statements is true to you. There’s no in-between area when it comes to student credit cards. Since the new school year is in, we all need to go back to school on credit cards.

There are many different views on student credit cards out there.

  • The professional young lady buying her first home at 26 due to strong credit is happy that she used a student credit card to build her credit.
  • The dude struggling in his late-20s to make his credit card payments and can’t find a place to rent is outraged that he signed up for that credit card just to get a free shirt.

I don’t want to see you stuck in credit card debt until you’re 30. I want you to build up your savings account. I want you to start your own business or find a job that you enjoy. I don’t want your credit card debt to strangle you and limit your options in life. There’s nothing worse in life than feeling hopeless and stuck.

There’s no time to be in debt!

Should you get a credit card in college?

That’s a good question and we need to look at both sides.

What are the benefits of a student credit card?

  • Quick access to credit.
  • Build your credit.
  • Have a credit history.
  • Pay for emergencies.
  • Buy stuff online.
  • Practise discipline.
  • Get into the habit of using credit.

What are the potential negatives of a credit card in college?

  • Massive amounts of credit card debt.
  • Screw over your co-signor.
  • Ruin your credit.
  • Spend money on the most useless crap.
  • Lose your savings.
  • Buy things you don’t need.
  • Create poor spending habits at a young age.

While a student credit card can be a great tool, it can also screw you over if you don’t know what you’re doing.

I compare credit cards to drinking. If you’re responsible, you can have some fun. If you’re clueless, bad things will happen. Most of us are somewhere in between.

Do you have to get a credit card in college?

Absolutely not! 

You don’t need anything in college. You don’t need a credit card. There’s no shame in working with your weaknesses. You don’t need to do anything. You can focus 100% on your studies and networking.

If you have no control, then don’t bother with a credit card.

If you’re not ready to have a piece of plastic that has money attached to it, then don’t get a credit card.

You absolutely don’t need a credit card in college. Don’t feel bad if you choose not to get one.

If you do get a student credit card, let’s move on…

How do you master a credit card?

There are a few rules that I recommend you follow if you want to master your plastic. If you have some time I recommend that you check out how you should NOT use a credit card.

How can you master your student credit card?

  1. Pick the right card. Instead of accepting random offers in the mail or on campus, I suggest that you seek out the best student credit card that you can. This usually includes the following: no annual fee, a low-interest rate, and some perks.
  2. Get the smallest limit possible. As a rookie credit card user, you shouldn’t (and likely wouldn’t) receive more than a $500 limit.
  3. Treat your credit card like a debit card. My rule for credit card spending is simple: if you don’t have the money in your checking account then don’t spend it. How do you plan on paying your balance off if you don’t have the money?
  4. Make your payments on time. This is an absolute must. You’ll get screwed over royally if you don’t make your payments on time. This should be your number one priority with a credit card. Fortunately for me, my credit card is connected to my checking account online so it’s just a quick transfer.
  5. Take advantage of credit card rewards. Credit cards come with different rewards. I personally use a cash back credit card and get some money back at the end of the year.
  6. Ask for a limit increase when you’re ready. If you stay on top of your credit card for an extended period of time, you can eventually call your company up and ask for a limit increase.
  7. Repeat. There are no shortcuts to mastering your credit. Repeat this process and your credit will improve.

Should you use your credit card for emergencies?

This is a tough one. Everyone gets a credit card for “emergencies.”

What exactly qualifies as an emergency? How many emergencies will you have?

I highly suggest that you keep money in savings account for emergencies. If you absolutely need to be bailed out, then sure you can use your credit card. Just please do whatever you can to pay your balance off as soon as possible.

And let’s be honest, we don’t have too many real emergencies in college!

What if you want to learn more about credit?

I’ve written about this topic to death. I have 13,000 words on this topic with my premium guide on how to completely conquer credit.

Completely Conquer Credit
[GRAB YOUR COPY]

For a limited time I’m selling this guide for only $7 because I want as many of you to benefit from this as possible!

What if you want more help for free?

I understand that many college students don’t have money. All of my work is available for free here. I put together a colossal piece on crushing credit card debt.

There’s no need to be afraid of student credit cards. After reading this piece, I’m confident that you’ll be ready to master the plastic.

How did/do you handle student credit cards?

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College students are completely clueless about managing money. Most college students are in debt now and will be for a long time. Why do I say this?

According to Yahoo News, the average amount of student debt that a student holds upon graduation is $25,250. The total amount of student debt carried by Americans is estimated to be $870 billion.

I think it’s fair to say that most college students are struggling financially after reading those stats. On the bright side, I got some pretty sweet news for you…

You don’t have to be a financially struggling student that’s always broke!

Being broke sucks. There’s no other way to put it.

I want you to have options. First let’s look at financial problems that students face.

What are the biggest issues facing college students when it comes to finances?

I reached out to a member of our community to see what she had to say about this. Brenda has gone back to school and is doing it without going broke. Brenda recently shared her story on how she plans to pay for college. The four reasons for financial struggles come word-for-word from an email that I received from Brenda.

  1. Saving money. I feel that a lot of students don’t know how to save money because they weren’t taught proper techniques that will set them up for success in the future; a budget definitely helps.
  2. Peer pressure. Students feel the need to ‘fit in’ with friends who are all attending colleges right out of high school. What students aren’t told is that life doesn’t have to be a rush, taking time to decide which career path to choose is fine.
  3. Credit. As a young generation in society we are told build your credit with a student credit card or you won’t be able to get a loan for a car or house. Why would you need a loan if you could pay cash for it? Proper planning, and budgeting would allow students not to take out a loan to pay for college while still getting an education.
  4. Debt. Once a college loan is taken out it follows the student nearly their entire lifetime because they weren’t taught ways to save or overcome debt.

Are you struggling in college because of any of those issues? Keep on reading…

“College wasn’t originally designed to merely be a continuation of high school (but with more binge drinking). In many places, though, that’s what it has become.” — Seth Godin

It’s true. College is a great time to party. Guess what? I love to party. I’m the first one at the party. So don’t think that this article is about passing judgment. I just want you to know that even a loudmouth drunk like me has it in him to save money.

I promise you that you can overcome these financial issues that students face.

How’s this all possible? How can you graduate from college debt free or at least be smart with your money?

Find a job.

Get a job. Get any job. You’re not above any job. You’re not below any job. Apply and apply often. Your goal is to find any source of income.

I wrote about the best job for college students before. I would highly recommend finding something in sales so that you can work on your basic communication skills. You don’t want to be socially awkward forever.

Once you find a job, become the best employee ever. Don’t worry about The 4-Hour Workweek or any other crazy dreams. You can still run a side business with a part-time gig. Your first priority should be to find any source of income.

Apply for free money.

This should be classified under common sense, yet so few of us actually do this. There are tons of sources of free money. Apply for all of the free money possible. This includes bursaries, scholarships, and grants.

So what if you have to write an essay? It beats writing drawn out messages about the night before to your buddies on Facebook.

Go to your school’s official website. Look for some sort of a financial section. Apply for free money. Don’t use any excuses.

Pay yourself first.

Whatever you do for money, you absolutely have to pay yourself first. Put some money aside for yourself. Even if you save $20 a week, you’ll end up with over $1,000 at the end of the year. That sure beats saving ZERO.

How do you pay yourself first? Whenever you get paid, get your bank or employer to deduct this money. Hide this money. Put it away. Don’t allow yourself any access to it.

Get wasted.

Own the night. Get silly. Do something you’re afraid of. Then wake up the next day, chug a bottle of water, and get yourself to work or to your studies. I don’t want you to miss out on anything. There’s going to be plenty of time to work and there will also be time to party. Don’t think that a part-time job will hold you back from enjoying the college experience.

By this point, you should go from financially struggling student to half-decent at managing money student. If you want to know how I personally graduated from college without any debt, you need to read this.

Subscribe to my main mailing list below where it asks you if you want private stuff. You’ll get information that you can’t find on here.

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