Keeping Your Finances Afloat

Budgeting and Saving

“Create a budget before you do anything else. Find out your monthly pay (after taxes) and immediately put a percentage (10%) in the bank. Next take out all the necessary costs like rent, utilities, transportation, and however much you feel like you need to spend on food. This is how much you have left to play with for the month. And start a 401K ASAP if your job offers it.” –Matthew H. ’15

“Try the Envelope Method .” –Michaela K. ’15

“Separate wants from needs. I use an Excel sheet that lists my expenses and then I indicate which were needs and wants. Then for the following months, I try to cut down on unnecessary spending.” –Anansa B. ’15

“Make your own coffee. Pay cash only at bars and don’t bring your cards out. That way, a $50 budget is truly a 50-dollar budget.” –Douglas B. ’15

“Leave a little extra money in your budget each month so that you can afford emergencies (and surprise expenses).” –Monique J. ’15

“Plan, plan, plan. Over-budget and under-spend. Plan what bills you have to pay with each check to keep yourself from living paycheck to paycheck. Find coupons, get a crockpot, and/or meal prep. It’ll save time, money, and effort that can be spent elsewhere.” –Kendra H. ’14

“Meal-planning is your friend and saves you tons on groceries.” –Nahoma P. ’15

“Allocate your monthly salary on your basic needs first and then see what is left. After that put some of that aside and use the rest for anything you enjoy in life: sports, going out, eating out!” –Ioannis Z. ’14

“If you’re going to grad school, spend the summer beforehand making as much money as possible whether the job is relevant to what you’re studying or not. When I first moved, I spent a lot of money on food and drinks while going out with my friends. As a grad student with negative income, that’s just not sustainable. I invite my friends to come cook dinner in my apartment instead of going out to eat.” –Ryan W. ’15

“I made a spreadsheet detailing my expenses in categories of groceries, restaurants and bars, shopping, etc. Every week I tally my expenses through my bank statement and at the end of the month I see what I need to cut back on.” –Anonymous

“Make a budget. Excel is a great tool, and it has a lot of templates for you to choose from. Once a week, go in and record what categories your credit card charges/cash spending go to. I like Excel more than dedicated apps because you can split up those charges.” –Emma A. ’15

“Find a budgeting app of some sort (or at least use Google docs) to help you keep track of what you spend your money on. For example, maybe you’re spending more money than you need to on non-essentials, like coffee (guilty!). Be especially frugal as you start a new job, if you are unsure your salary is enough to live comfortably on.” –Mary Abbe. R. ’13

“Retirement may seem like an eternity away, but start investing in your 401k with your very first paycheck. ‘I have too much money for retirement,’ said no one ever.” –Lucas P. ’12

“Cook yourself dinner and pack your own lunch. Also, if you can buy your metro card through your job pre-tax, you should do it.” –Alyssa B. ’10

“Keep track of all of your spending, whether it’s a spreadsheet you create or just tracking spending via online banking. This is helpful so that you can see where most of your money is going, and if anything can be changed if you’re trying to save.” –Lindsay W. ’10

“Talk to your parents and get their advice. Spend less on your housing so you can afford to do more fun things.” –Gavin P. ’17

“Only “treat yo self” once a week (usually the weekends). Go grocery shopping to steer away from eating out and there’s no need to buy name-brand on many items. Keep a close eye on your monthly credit statements, keep receipts, and keep track of how much on average you’re spending per week and per month.” –Ashley B. ’17

“Don’t eat out every day!” –Delia C.N. ’17

“Spend less money than you make. Instead of deciding how you want to live, determine how much money you actually make (after taxes) and let that determine where you can live and what you can afford. That way you will never end up in debt because of overspending.” –David L. ’09

“Start saving for retirement right away; open up a Roth IRA or if your company offers a 401k take advantage of it, especially if your company offers to match your contribution.” –Patrick M. ’13

“I use a website to help me watch my spending called It will track your money and alert you if you’re going over your budget via text.” –Anonymous

“Sit down once you start working and figure out how much money you are taking in each month (income, help from your parents, etc.) and how much you know you will be spending (rent, utilities, transportation fees, student loans, etc.). Then once you know how much excess cash you will have each month, I would suggest having at least a small percent (5-10%) automatically transferred into a savings account each month. I use a Fidelity account. This way, you know you can start saving immediately. Once you start moving up in your career and making more money you can increase the amount you save each month.” –Anonymous

“Try not to spend all your money eating out and drinking with friends. Have potlucks and make dinners.” –Anonymous

“I try to review my credit card statement monthly to pick out places where I can spend less in the next month.” –Anonymous

“Get internet but not cable, live in a house with multiple roommates, and ride the bus!” –Jonathan A. ’09

“Always make sure you ‘pay yourself first’ when you get your paycheck. In addition to putting aside money for your bills, put money aside in your retirement fund AND put away some for savings. Treat your savings fund and retirement fund as bills you pay to your future.” –Anonymous

“Make your savings automatic – you have better things to do/worry about – and read at least one book on investing. My favorite is A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel.” –Nick L. ’14

“Do not spend more than 25% of your disposable income on rent.” –Dan S. ’09

“Make sure your rent isn’t too crazy; make your own coffee, shop for your own food, use Amazon Prime, order packaged goods in bulk, and pre-game.” –Justin G. ’10

“Start drawing out a budget as soon as possible, and do not forget to account for how much of your salary is going to have to go to taxes when you’re determining how much you can pay in terms of rent/car payments/etc.” –Melissa B. ’17

“Regardless of how much or little you make, it’s important to have a budget/spending plan and to track your spending. Prioritize paying off debt and saving, and don’t forget to treat yourself—but don’t get carried away on either end. It’s important to think about the future (i.e. spending less than you earn, saving, paying off loans, etc.), just as it’s important to live your life and have fun!” –Shelby C. ’17

“Write everything down. When I started working, I just started an Excel spreadsheet where I broke down all my expected expenses and would update it weekly with where my money had gone that week. Between student loans, a new apartment, moving expenses, and everything else, there’s a lot to keep track of so it’s important that you know exactly where your money is going. Don’t forget to budget spending money as well, so you know exactly how much you can spend and don’t go over it.” –Maria S. ’18

“Don’t spend money to try and impress people. Save and start investing while you are young (company 401k and Roth IRA). Be realistic about what you can afford. Avoid purchasing a brand-new car, which depreciates 60% within the first 5 years! ” –Leonardo B. ’18

“I try to make a budget, but it doesn’t always work. One thing I do that everyone should is set aside a certain dollar amount of your paycheck to your savings (ideally to be deposited automatically). This way, you spend from your checking exclusively. Also, make sure you max out your employer 401k contribution or other perks. Also, it’s probably best to max out your 401k in general if you can. Definitely use apps like Mint to track spending, even though they don’t track things like Venmo well, they provide a significant amount of transparency without much hassle.” –Joshua P. ’18

“Your first goal should be setting up an emergency fund of $3,000-6,000.” –Victoria V. ’10

“Get a credit card to build up your credit, but pay it off in full every month. Do not rely on your credit card. You do not actually have that money.” –Anonymous

“Read You can get away with spending way less than you think. Personal finance is one of those things that everyone needs to know about but that nobody is ever taught.” –Brad O. ’10

“Keep your standard of living modest. Don’t become a slave to your paycheck. It will keep you from other opportunities.” –Anonymous

“Look over tax-deduction policies and start identifying everyday expenses that qualify.” –Adrienne W. ’11

“I try to live off of 70% of my income and save 30%. I only use my credit card if I have a large purchase that is absolutely necessary (i.e. buying a new tire after having a blowout on the highway or buying a laptop because my old one was run over by a bus). Seriously, only emergency purchases on the credit card. Your student loans will keep you busy enough and are enough to build (or ruin) your credit.” –Janise C. ’13 is great—offers virtual (read: cheaper) financial advisor services. to see spending. Venmo is good for splitting bills and rent with peers.” –Gemma S. ’09

“Read Ramit’s I Will Teach You to be Rich.” –Guy M. ’10

“Although there is typically a certain limit on a credit card, make your own limit for each month to help keep your extra spending to a minimum. It can be exciting finally living on your own, but this also means you have additional responsibilities.” –Kellie I. ’10

“It can be very tempting to spend that first big paycheck. Always make sure your bills are paid with your money first and then decide whether that treat you’re thinking of buying is really worth it.” –Angie S. ’11

“Have a 24-48 hour waiting period before you buy anything (except toilet paper).” –Anonymous

“I like the phone app Expense Manager. I can quickly add transactions on the go to keep a digital account book. It also allows me to track the type of spending (how much on food, entertainment, office supplies, etc.).” –Emily W. ’10

“Pay off loans with a higher interest rate first.” –Chad H. ’12

“Be frugal! It is so easy to get caught up in the glamorous hype of social media. Just remember your goals and where you want to go and what you will need to get there. Also, thrifting and auctioning are great ways to get quality for a cheaper price.” –Kwame B. ’17

“Use budgeting apps, such as Mint, to keep track of all your spending! It’s easy to buy a coffee here and there and lose track of your monthly income. Always abide by the 50-30-20 rule: use 50% of your income to pay off bills and necessities, 30% on miscellaneous costs, and always try to save AT LEAST 20%. It’s a great idea to make sure you are building your credit score if you’re not doing so already. ” –Suny K. ’18

“Save through your 401K. It’s a really great savings vehicle that you can use before other savings methods. It will also teach you to be frugal and live on less (since the savings come off the top of your paycheck), which is important to learn (no matter how much you make). ” –Michael D. ’13

“Make sure you take a hard look at how you spend your money. Make a budget (you can find lots of free ones online, especially on websites like Reddit) and really stick to it. A little bit goes a long way, but it is very hard to undo a period of wild spending.” –Michele C. ’18

“Track where every penny is going for a few months. If you like it, you’ll keep doing it and fall into the habit of not needlessly spending anymore.” –Allan H. ’18

“It is not worth it to spend 50% of your salary in rent, try aiming for 30%. Make a budget and make your best to stick to it. I recommend opening a savings account not linked to your debit card that you can put your savings in and don’t have access to it easily, so you don’t spend it carelessly.” –Daniela B. ’18

“Start tracking how you spend your money, and then make a budget based off of that, considering how much you’d like to be saving, putting towards retirement, putting towards loans, all of that jazz. I recommend the Mint app.” –Sophie A. ’18

“Bring lunch to work.” –Matt B. ’14

“Living near a grocery store helps a lot. It means you’ll eat out less. If you go out to eat, bring home leftovers. Use buses. Use a debit card instead of a credit card. Credit cards are the devil.” –Ross B. ’09

“Build a nest egg without the pain! See if your bank can sink a set percentage of every direct deposit paycheck into savings. Consider also putting money into mutual funds or ETFs as safe, long-term investments. Charles Schwab is an excellent bank to get started with – it has best-in-business customer service and resources to help you learn about investing.” –Steven T. ’16

“Create an Excel spreadsheet that breaks down living, transportation, entertainment, food/drinks. Food and Ubers add up, so tracking your spending is necessary! I signed up for Digit  which helps you save painlessly.” Jill D.  ’16

“SHOUTOUT TO DAVE RAMSEY! Step 1: Read his book, Complete Guide to Money. It’s dated in terms of interest rates, and I just replace the word church with “charity of your choice” when I read it, but it’s got really good information. Step 2: MAKE A BUDGET. EVERY. MONTH. I know it’s stupid and dorky but it’s really important to make sure the money coming in isn’t less than the money coming out. Also, it can be crazy to figure out how much you’re actually spending on stupid stuff you don’t need. Step 3: Realize that you’re probably going to need to spend more money for graduate or medical school than you’ll make during your 1 to 2 years working in between. Save as much as you can and do your best.” Teresa R.  ’16

“Actually, make a budget and cook your own food. Plain and simple.” –Simone A. ’16

“Keep track of your spending for the first couple months and create a budget based on that. Auto-withdraw to separate savings account and live with what you have remaining.” –Ha L. ’16

“Don’t spend money you don’t have. You don’t need a line of credit, live frugally while you still have the taste for DFo and ramen in your short-term memory.” –Richard H. ’16

“I use Mint to help me with my finances. It allows me to view transaction history, create budgets, track all student loans, and set financial goals for myself. Having one place to see all that information helps me a lot. Remaining cognizant of my finances helps me save.” Ellen S.  ’16

“Plan ahead and know the cost of living in your area. Make more than your minimum payment on your loans if you can. Check if your company has a student loan assistance program. Pay off any accrued interest before it capitalizes (gets added to your principal loan balance) when the grace period ends. When looking for an apartment, know what you can live without (i.e. if you’ll be on your own, do you really need a dishwasher?).” Matt A.  ’16

“Always keep an emergency saving account.” –Elias D. ’16

“Going out for dinner or drinks can be a big expense. Moderation and vigilance has really helped my budget.” –Dominick S. ’16

“Learn about the Marshmallow Test, understand the concept of delayed gratification, and stick with your plan.” Robin W. ’14

“While preparing for my hike, I became a member at an outdoors store. I got points each time I bought gear, and the points turned into gift certificates I could use to buy more gear!” –Gina D. ’16

“Use Mint to track your spending across all your accounts. Also, read I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. It’s a great, funny, useful book that taught me a lot about personal finance. Also, set up an emergency fund as soon as possible. I set one up and it allowed me to take a huge risk and move to Thailand for a job, and then move back when it didn’t work out.” –Jaclyn S. ’11

“Write down what you spend your money on. Pay attention to your receipts.” –Emily H. ’12

“Balance what’s nice with what’s necessary. For transportation, for example, I find that I get surprisingly far in Rochester by sacrificing just a bit of my freedom to share rides with friends. Otherwise I rely on my trusty bicycle, my two legs, and buses. My bike is a nice, but better for me than a car in the short term for at least half the year. My friend, however, uses a car for work, and certainly some have less tolerance for the cold than me, so it really depends on the situation. Likewise, for buying or renting a house, think of what’s necessary. I have loans, and I’m fine with sharing a less grandiose house to devote more attention to my education debt. I also have found it a worthwhile investment to cook multiple meals at home. This allows me to save money much of the time, eat healthy, and not be fully cooking every day. (And yes, perseverance makes food tastier.)  Aside from that, a generally good piece of advice for me was to not spend more than a third of my income on housing and always invest or save away 15% of my income for the future. I’ve found this very manageable for my stipend.” –Nicholas K. ’17

Saving for Large Purchases

“Remember that small purchases add up.” Michaela K. ’15

“Be realistic about the goals you set for how much you want to save. Be patient, small savings add up in the end.” –Anansa B. ’15

“Speak with financial counselors about what works best for you depending on your lifestyle and budget. You are young; you can start early so that you’re prepared when you’re ready to buy a house, car, etc.”–Kendra H. ’14

“Make sure it’s the right purchase for you. It can be worth it if it’s the right thing.” –Nahoma P. ’15

“Make sure saving money is included in your budget.” –David W. ’15

“Having a concrete savings goal always helps. Put aside small amounts of money regularly when you can. Sometimes I transfer money that I would have spent on something else, but chose not to, into my savings. If a friend invites me out for coffee and I just hang out instead of getting a large latte, I put aside the $4 that I would have spent on the latte but didn’t.” –Caitlin C. ’11

“Set aside a lump sum every month in a separate account that you know you aren’t going to touch.” –Emily H. ’12

“Think long term, have an account to set a little money aside in over time, even if you do not have a specific purchase in mind for it yet.” –Melissa B. ’17

“It’s helpful to segment your income into several bank accounts. After talking with somebody at your bank, consider opening one account for long-term savings and one account for short-term savings, like a car or vacation. It’s important to be aware of withdrawal or minimum fees, so make sure you completely understand the terms of each account you are opening to avoid any surprises. Whenever you are saving up for a purchase, make sure you have more saved up than you need for the actual purchase. For example, when you’re saving for a car, you want to have enough saved up for the first few months of car repairs as well as registration and increases in car insurance that you may not have expected. Surprise costs can be your worst enemy when you’re first starting out, so it’s best to do everything you can to get ahead of those.” –Maria S. ’18

“Study the market and once you feel comfortable, learn how to invest in the stock market and mutual funds and let your money work for you. Also take a long term view of it—if you lose a few dollars in the stock market in a day don’t worry about it, the market will rebound and before you know it you’ll be making money again.” –David L. ’09

“In my city, houses/condos are extremely affordable at the moment and we recently decided to buy because the mortgage payment is less than our rent payment. I know a lot of young students with debt don’t think they can buy a house, but you don’t have to have your loans paid off in order to take out a mortgage. (Trust me, I have a ton of student debt.) If you’re sure you’re going to be settled in that area for a while, my advice is to consider whether you could be a homeowner!” –Sarah H. ’10

“Play house or car owner for a couple of months in order to figure out if you can afford something and feel what it’s like to have a certain amount of money gone and in an asset. Pretend that you purchased or acquired that asset and had to make the payments for several months. If you don’t like how it feels or even miss a payment, you cannot afford it.” –Guy M. ’10

“I purchased my first car after graduation. There are many dealerships who offer college graduation incentives for recent college graduates. Take advantage of these opportunities and do your research to ensure that you are getting the best deal.” –Janise C. ’13

“Any raises that you receive, don’t count the new money as extra income to spend, count it as extra money to save!” –Jonathan A. ’09

“Set up direct deposits from your salary into a savings account that you don’t ever touch.” –Gavin P. ’17

“Budget, budget, budget! By having a saving plan for travel alone, for example, I’m able to visit friends or new places without worrying if I can afford it.” –Shelby C. ’17

“Research first home buyer programs to see which one works best for you.” –Kwame B. ’17

“If you know there’s something you want and it costs X dollars, just look at your normal spending habits and see how much you’d have to cut back and for how long to afford something. So, if you spend $14 on Starbucks per day, maybe skip two of the coffees and grab them at the office instead for free and save like $8/day and do that for however many days to afford whatever you’re saving for.” –Joshua P. ’18

“Save up bit by bit! Also, don’t freak out about trying to buy a home straight out of school.” –Michele C. ’18

“Get a separate savings account for your large purchases, and add monthly deposits into your budget. That way, you’re not just adding leftover money; you have a dedicated amount that you’re putting in every month.” –Emma A. ’15

“Save a little per paycheck.” –Amanda C. ’16

“Make sure part of your direct deposit is shifted to a savings account every time it hits. That way, you don’t even have the psychological impact of “Wow, I have so much money now!”, and eventually, your spending habits adjust accordingly.” Richard H. ’16

“Don’t buy should stuff you don’t NEED.” –Elias D. ’16

“Set up a separate bank account that you never access except for these purposes and automate it. Simple is a great online-only bank where you can set goals for various purposes (like these) and set aside a certain amount of money to go towards these goals automatically.” –Jaclyn S. ’11

“Definitely save up before doing those purchases. Shouldn’t leave yourself broke for making that investment.” –Daniela B. ’18

“Make a budget of something you can put aside every week for this large purchase. It WILL add up. Make use of high yield savings accounts or low risk funds and don’t touch the savings.” –Allan H. ’18

Paying Off Student Loans and Credit Card Debt

“Pay as much as you can during the first months so that your interest is lower. Try paying while in grad school so that you have the grace period.” Isabella T.V. ’14

“Try to pay off your student loan interest (at the very least) each month so that the amount you owe does not continue to rise.” –Monique J. ’15

“Credit Karma, Mint, and Betterment – these are online tools that would be great in telling you where your money is. Get an income driven repayment plan on your loans. Pay off your lower balance debts to get them out of your way and if you can, pay more than the minimum balance. You can also choose to pay off the debt with the largest APR or interest rate first. Look around to see what works best for your situation.” –Kendra H. ’14

Income-based repayment!” Nahoma P. ’15

“Always pay off the higher interest rates first. If you can consolidate debt at a lower interest rate, then do it.” David W. ’15

“If you’re staying in grad school and your loans are deferred, you should still make payments if you can. This will stop the interest from building up. Setting up automatic monthly payments even of $25 will be helpful.” –Brianna I. ’15

“If you’re lucky enough to get a job over the summer, start paying the student loan down ASAP. The more you pay off before the year ends, the more you can write off of your 2016 taxes and the less interest you’ll pay.” –Emma A. ’15

“You should never end up with credit card debt if you can avoid it. While using a credit card helps boost your credit, it’s not extra money. It’s still your money that you need to pay off, so treat it as part of your budget. As far as student loans go, choose the plan that best fits your salary at the time. I pay the least amount each month, based on what I earn, because I can’t afford to pay the standard amount.” –Mary Abbe R. ’13

“Always pay the full balance on your credit card bills, if you are able to do so. If you just pay the minimum, the accruing interest will drive up the total bill. A good credit score is the goal!” –Dan G. ’14

“Set automated reminders on all of your electronic devices (phone, laptop, tablet), in addition to your agenda so you never miss a loan payment.” –Elizana-Marie J. ’17

“Build it into your budget and try to get it paid back as quickly as possible so you don’t end up accumulating a ton of interest.” –Melissa B. ’17

“Be vigilant. Talk to someone (family, friends, etc.) early if you think this might be a problem.” –Gavin P. ’17

“Have a plan and stick to it. I don’t carry my credit card anymore and make regular payments every time I get paid at work.” –Daniela B. ’18

“Suffering for a little bit and being on a tight budget constraint in the present seems to be a better option than suffering a 20% interest rate later. Debt should always be a priority, not something leftover funds go to.” –Allan H. ’18

“If you continue your education after your undergraduate degree, you are eligible to defer your student loans until you are finished with your education. I have seen a lot of colleagues in my graduate program get excited about this option without realizing what it means—you are allowing interest to accrue on your loans for years! As a graduate student, I can’t afford to make substantial payments on my loans. However, I calculated how much interest the loans accrue per month and pay twice that amount each month. That way, I won’t leave graduate school with more debt than I came in with, and I will have chipped away a little at the balance without too much sacrifice.” –Caitlin C. ’11

“Never finance anything on a credit card. Never!” –Anonymous

“Build your budget around your loan repayment. Treat your credit card like a debit card. Don’t ever buy things you can’t take immediately out of your bank account unless you will literally die without it.” –Will H. ’14

“Always try to pay off the highest-rate loans first, even if you have large loans at smaller interest rates. If you can afford to pre-pay a loan, always pre-pay the highest interest rate loan, and ALWAYS make your additional payment immediately after your regular monthly payment goes out. (If your regular monthly payment is due on the 15th, make your additional payment the 16th.) This will ensure that most of the payment you make is applied to the principal of the loan.” –Sarah H. ’10

“Don’t go down the slippery slope with a credit card. Only spend what you have available and always pay off your card in full each month.” –Emily W. ’10

“Explore all of your options for paying off your student loans. There are many repayment programs that can help defer or lower the costs.” –Jonathan A. ’09

“Pay off as much as you can as soon as you can. Sure, during grace period you aren’t required to pay (and subsidized loans don’t start accruing interest) but it’s huge to pay towards the loans during this time. It lowers your required monthly payment, allows you to lower the amount without interest accrual, and prevents larger interest accrual later on. Set up an automatic payment (of any amount) as most lenders will reduce the interest rate by a small percentage. Make sure extra payments are applied to the loan immediately and not as future interest payments.” –Shelby C. ’17

“Make paying off debt your number 1 priority.” –Leonardo B. ’18

“For credit cards, just never get into debt. Don’t sign up for credit cards just to get bonuses, only sign up conservatively and of course always pay off your balance in full each month. Don’t buy things you can’t afford.” –Joshua P. ’18

“Don’t accrue credit card debt, even if it comes at the expense of savings. It’s a really expensive way of paying for things. Don’t stress out about student loans, your salary goes up over time and it will make payments easier to make.” –Michael D. ’13

“Pay a little bit at a time, and always make your minimum. Chip away at it and don’t look at the big picture, but rather the day to day. Also, keep your head up and know that we’re all in the same boat with you.” –Michele C. ’18

“Here is a BIG tip: most student loan servicers (mine are Sallie Mae and Great Lakes) will give you an interest rate reduction if you have your loan payments automatically debited from your checking account. And they don’t always advertise it! You have to call them up and ask, or just go ahead and sign up for the debit. If this works for your monthly budget, I highly recommend doing it. You can schedule the payment to come out of your account on any day you like. My loans’ rates have been reduced by .50%, or even .75%, which doesn’t seem like much but saves you money.” –Sarah H. ’10

“During your grace period, start repaying your student loans if you can. When your grace period has ended, try to keep up with your loan payments. Going into forbearance will wreck your credit. This means getting a car, getting an apartment, buying a house, getting approved for a line of credit, or even getting your own cell phone line will be that much harder. Make your payments early. If you cannot do that, then try to make them on time.” –Janise C. ’13

“Student loan debt is a necessary evil. Spend one hour each week thinking about your financial standing, but only use ten of those minutes to think about what you currently owe. The other fifty minutes should be spent thinking about how you can make more money (promotions, investments, a career change, etc.)” –Lucas P. ’12

“Make the minimum payments on all bills you have and allocate all spare money you earn towards paying off the smallest debt.” –Connor D. ’17

“Loans should be factored into your budget, just like rent. You have to pay it, so pay it at the first of the month and figure out the rest of your expenses around it. If you can afford it, pay at least an extra $20 a month than required.” Jill D. ’16

“Prioritize the debt with the highest interest rate. If you have private student loans, those will usually carry high interest rates so try to pay those off before your federal loans. If you need to, re-set your federal loans to pay them back at a slower rate so you can prioritize your private loans. It helped me a lot to set up automatic payments so I’m never forgetting to make my loan payments. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all your bills and debts when you’re starting out, so make sure you write down your financial goals and how you can achieve those. How soon do you want to pay off each debt? What financial sacrifices might you need to make to achieve those? Having clear goals is the most helpful way to take care of your debt. ” –Maria S. ’18

“Figure out what kind you have – there are subsidized and unsubsidized and they’re different. You want to pay a little on all of them every month, but start with the one that has the highest interest. It will save you more money in the long run to pay that one off first, because you won’t continue to accrue boatloads of extra money on top of your principal (aka interest).” –Teresa R. ’16

“Do it quickly and don’t just make the minimum payment.” –Simone A. ’16

“Pay things off as aggressively as possible, even if it means cutting back on fun spending. Trust me, you’ll much rather have zero debt than spend that money on drinks with your coworkers.” –Amanda C. ’16

“Figure out which repayment plan works best for you and start planning during your grace period. If I have the room in my budget to pay more than my usual monthly payment amount, I will pay extra. Even if it is only a little bit more. These little extra boosts make a huge difference in the long run.” Ellen S. ’16

“Start making payments as soon as you can, even while you’re still in school. It’ll help with a lower payment in the long run. Try to use cash whenever possible to keep your credit card debt in check and sign up for email notifications when your statement is due (helps make sure you don’t get charged any late fees).” –Stephanie S. ’16

“Pay off student loans sooner than later. Pay off credit card debt monthly if you can. Don’t spend more than you can afford, even if you have a high credit limit.” –Matt A. ’16

“Credit cards have high interest rates. Consider paying that off first. And just because your bank offers to increase your limit doesn’t mean you should hit that limit.” –Dominick S. ’16

“Don’t accumulate credit card debt in the first place. If you have it, make it your priority to pay it off immediately or it will haunt you forever. The nice thing about student loans is the repayment plans adjust with your income so it’s always manageable. I have so much debt from student loans, but I am slowly paying it down by paying the smallest loan amounts off first. It feels like a victory every time I pay one off, even though it’s only a drop in the bucket.” –Jaclyn S. ’11

“Avoid debt at all costs! Use credit only to the extent that you can immediately pay it off.  It creates undue stress and is a slippery slope. I have education debt, and my goal is to pay it off as quickly as possible.” –Nicholas K. ’17

Handling Your Taxes

“Get a CPA if you’ve lived in two states.” –Isabella T.V. ’14

“For filing taxes, there are companies that will do it for free if you are low-income.” –Anansa B. ’15

“Look for free tax services like Turbo Tax, who offer free state and federal taxes for some, or CASH Coalition, who also facilitates free tax prep services. Get to know the tax language; it’ll help you save money by completing them yourself.” –Kendra H. ’14

“Recent grads are lucky. Chances are you don’t own a home, have the majority of your income come from a singular source, and don’t have any dependents. Despite what TV has made tax returns seem to be, it’s relatively easy.” –Ryan W. ’15

“Always save important paperwork. There are two schools of thought on taxes. If you want to keep money in the short run, then over-declare dependents but you may end up with a smaller refund or possibly owing money. If you under-declare, then you pay more taxes now but will end up with a bigger refund.” –David W.  ’15

“Ask your parents for help.” –Brianna I. ’15

“Check with your parents; technically they can still claim you if you were only self-sufficient for half of the year (aka starting after graduation).” –Emma A. ’15

“The UR paperwork relating to financial aid can be tricky. Make sure you look at it closely before filing your taxes.” –Hannah V. ’15

“Stay organized and keep a small file cabinet.” –Anonymous

“If you work for a company, they take taxes out of your paycheck so just make sure you file your taxes on time. If you are self-employed, it is important that you set aside money each quarter to pay taxes so you are not hit with a huge tax bill you cannot afford at the end of the year.” –David L. ’09

“If you sign an employment contract before moving to a new city (e.g. you accept a job offer in February while still living in Rochester) and you use your home or Rochester address when accepting the package, make sure you have HR formally update your profile when you find your apartment. If not, you may be VERY surprised come tax time when you owe the state hundreds of dollars of unpaid city tax money.” –Lucas P. ’12

“When filing your federal income tax, you can deduct the amount of interest you’ve paid on qualified federal student loans.” –Erin O. ’11

“Your community might have free tax preparation resources that you’re likely to be eligible for if you’ve only been working a few months.” –Anonymous

“Make sure you take credit for student loan payments, and any other credits or incentives you can. They make a difference.” –Brad O. ’10

“You need to get health insurance because you could be fined if you don’t have it.” –Delia C.N. ’17

“Some states will give you a return on any interest you paid on your student loans. Make sure you’re aware of how your state is helping recent grads because it could help you out during tax season! Also, just be aware that taxes will be confusing your first year out of college, especially if you are living outside of NY State and held a job in Rochester while you were in college. You will be dealing with different tax forms and laws from each state, so start early! H&R Block, individual accountants, or other in-person tax services might be worth the investment to make sure you’re getting all the returns you can and avoid being audited. ” –Maria S. ’18

“Many students don’t make use of claiming their school expenses to get some of it back. Check to see if it applies to you.” –Allan H. ’18

“Don’t submit them late and ask for help if you need to. I ended up paying for a service to help me fill out my tax forms since I’m international, so had to file as a foreign alien. Americans do have the benefit of free tax services like TurboTax.” –Daniela B. ’18

“Whenever you donate money or clothes, always ask for a receipt so you can get a tax break.” –Angie S. ’11

“Sometimes you have to file in multiple states (if you live in DE but work in PA for example).” –Emily W. ’10

“I was still getting tax forms sent to the Rochester house I lived in during my Take Five year. For your first year out, it’s good to keep connected with whoever lives at your old address so they can forward you mail.” Katherine V. ’15

“Help is out there! The IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has free tax preparation services in every major city for low and moderate income earners. Search online for a location near you. There is also , sponsored by the United Way, which offers free online filing for those making $64,000 and less.” -Alysha A. ’15

“Look into itemizing your taxes to see if it would help you. If you have multiple investment accounts, be careful about how much you make in dividends and other seemingly small yields, because you may have to report these gains even if they’re small.” –Joshua P. ’18

“Online tax websites make filing easy and painless!” –Hira A. ’18

“There’s no shame in having someone help you with your taxes.” –Michele C. ’18

“Work closely with a financial advisor.” –Kwame B. ’17

“If you are consulting independently while looking for a job or doing contract work, make sure you pay the correct taxes.” –Gemma S. ’09

“Do it through TurboTax .” Elias D. ’16

“Know how many states you have to file in if you lived in multiple states. Some states require you to report income depending on where you lived and where you worked.” Matt A. ’16

“Keep all the papers (W2, 1098-E, etc.) in one secure place that way you aren’t scrambling to find them last minute.” -Stephanie S. ’16

“Doing taxes for the first time wasn’t so bad! If you have all the materials you need tools like TurboTax and H&R Block  are great. They give you a comprehensive breakdown as you file. There are deduction options if you are repaying student loans. You can deduct for your interest charges.” Ellen S. ’16

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help in filling out your W2 when accepting a job. I had no idea what the different deduction numbers meant, and I ended up calling my mom because I wanted to make sure enough taxes were taken off each paycheck so I didn’t have to pay during tax season.” Morgan K. ’16

“Remember that you get tax forms for student loans and for any classes you pay tuition for. You have to go and get those from the respective websites, so make sure you keep on top of it, or you could have to pay money you don’t have to the IRS. Also, you probably have a lot of stuff from college you no longer need or use. Donate it and get a receipt – and that’s a tax write-off and a way to clean out your tiny apartment. Win-win.” –Teresa R. ’16

“Start them early so you can get the TurboTax discount, see if your local city/state/school/employer offers free tax-prep services. Or learn to do them yourself via TurboTax. You’ll learn a good amount about where your money actually goes.” –Jaclyn S. ’11

“If you do not know what you’re doing, it’s a good idea to get help from a professional. The transition moving from school to working, usually in another state, can be complicated and you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.” –Melissa B. ’17