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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on Make Your Graduation Money Count

As graduation approaches, the taste of summer and freedom is probably almost more than you can stand. The excitement of closing the door to high school and opening the door to college is overwhelming. You will have graduation parties celebrating your achievement. You might even get some graduation gifts.

However, the one thing I hear from so many high school graduates is that they wish they had saved their graduation money. One student told me that they had gotten over $1,000 and didn’t even remember what they had blown it on…

So, as you have graduation parties and receive checks in the mail, here are 3 tips to help you spend your money wisely.

1. Save it. The first piece of advice is to save the money. If you are headed to college in the fall, you will have many additional expenses, such as buying furniture, a microwave, or room decor. Having some extra cash saved will help you be prepared for those purchases.

2. Wait and make a large purchase. Maybe you would like to buy a new computer or iPad for college. If you initially save the money from graduation, you can shop around to find a great deal on a computer before school starts.  If you are buying a computer or other electronic device, check to see if the company offers student discounts. Student discounts will help you spread your money out even further!

3. Budget the money. If your money is burning a hole in your pocket, make a budget  before you spend the money. If you want to buy new clothes, set aside a specific percentage of the money. You can enjoy the generosity of your friends and family while being intentional about how you are spending the money. Decide on your top 3-5 categories and designate a certain amount of money per category.

Most importantly, whenever you receive graduation money, think about how you are going to spend it. Send a thank you note to show your appreciation. And if you are careful, your dollars can stretch further than you think!

Question: How are you going to spend your graduation money? Make sure to leave your answer in the comments below. 

To your college success!

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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on Why You Need to Know About FAFSA Deadlines

As FAFSA deadlines are approaching, it is important to make sure that you file your FAFSA on time if you are planning to attend college in the fall. You can find out when the FAFSA deadline is according to the State in which you are currently a residence. Click here to find your state deadline. Still, many students and parents have questions about the FAFSA form. Is it worth the time and effort to fill it out? Today, the question that we are answer is as follows:

How can a FAFSA benefit me if I am not wanting to take out loans?

1. Scholarships. Many scholarship applications are based on financial need. The FAFSA can be used by schools to allocate these specific types of scholarships. Without filing your FAFSA, it is difficult to prove your financial need to a college. Even private scholarships that are not connected with a school will have need-based scholarship opportunities. By submitting your FAFSA on time, you are prepared to apply for different scholarships that are based on financial need.

2. Grants. A common type of U.S. Federal grant is the Federal Pell Grant. You do not have to repay this grant. (Although you always want to double-check on grants to make sure that you do not have to repay them. If you do, the grant is more like a loan.) Allocation of the Federal Pell Grant is based on financial need, hence one more reason to file your FAFSA. Other grants will have similar stipulations and require your FAFSA to be filed in order to be eligible.

When you are filling out your FAFSA form, make sure that you work with your parents, as their income information has to be filed, as well. Although it can take a little time and effort to submit the FAFSA form, it can be very beneficial when you are applying for need-based scholarships and grants! Just remember, just because you submit your FAFSA form does not mean that you should take student loans that are offered to you. The Direct Stafford Loan is the most common type of federal student loan for which you could be eligible. However, you have to pay it back.  If you are “eligible” for a $20,000 a year loan, you could potentially have $80,000 of student loan debt by the time you graduate! Yikes! Here’s another solution: Use the tips found in the book, Smart Work U, to help you graduate from college debt-free with no loans.

Question: What is the most challenging part about filing your FAFSA? Make sure to leave your answer in the comments below. 

To your college success!

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posted by | on Uncategorized | Comments Off on Smart Work U – Montana Parent Magazine

At Smart Work U, we help students navigate their way through college in order to graduate early, debt free.  I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Bret Snyder in the Montana Parent Magazine.

The Montana Parent Magazine is a parent magazine filled with great resources and information to help teach and train children from birth through college. I am always excited to share what I learned  through my experience at college with parents and students, so they can succeed at life.  For many, a college degree enables them to accomplish their dreams.

The interview was fun, and thank you Bret, for letting me be a part of Montana Parent Magazine! Click here to view the interview in the Montana Parent Magazine. 

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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on How to Create an Income in College

Have you ever had money problems?

When you are in college, many of the money problems stem from a limited income and poor money management skills. Today, we are answering the question of how to solve some of your money problems in college without having to call home and ask for more money every week. There are three types of jobs that you could pursue in order to help you make ends meet in your finances every month.

So before you pick up the phone to call home asking for money again, click on the video to learn 3 ways to create an income.

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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on How to Pay Your Bills in College

Do you have to pay your own bills now that you are in college?

Being responsible for your finances is part of growing up.  When you go off to college, you learn first hand that money is finite, meaning that it eventually runs out. Your income from your job will help you pay your bills. However, it can be scary if you don’t have a plan to pay your bills. How will you pay for unexpected car repairs? From cell phones to insurance, keeping track of your expenses is key.

The question we are answering is about how to pay your bills each month.

Click the video below to learn 3 tips to help you shed the fear and uncertainty about your finances.

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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on How to Get Involved During College

Are you trying to decide which extracurricular activity is right for you?

There are so many opportunities to get involved while you are at college. From student government to students in free enterprise, Spanish club, and other community groups, it is tempting to join them all.  For others, it is overwhelming, and you just decide to not be involved.  Although extracurricular activities will require a time commitment, you will have the opportunity to learn, grow, and meet new friends.

The question that we answering is how to  choose an extracurricular activity that is right for you during college.

Before you take the plunge, click the video below to learn 3 tips to balance your schedule when you take on a new commitment while in college.

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posted by | on News | Comments Off on Money Matters – OnCourse Magazine

It is an honor to have written an article in the ONCOURSE magazine.  The article, Money Matters, tackles 3 areas that deal with your finances as you head back to college. It talks about how money not only impacts you, but everyone around you. Here’s a quote from the article.

“But, if you don’t learn how to handle your finances, money will not just burn a hole in your pocket but could potentially “burn holes” in your relationships with your friends, parents, and future spouse.”

I would love for you to read the whole article. You can download the ONCOURSE Magazine App on your Ipad or other device from the “Newstand.” The best news is that the app is FREE! The whole magazine is very interactive and geared toward young people!  Here is a picture of it from my iPad.

To Your College Success!



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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on 3 Tips for Getting Good Grades in College

Are you worried about getting good grades in college?

For most people, college is harder than high school. You spend less time in class, yet are required to write papers, research, and take comprehensive tests.  You have to take responsibility for your schedule, time, and homework. When you go to class on the first day, all the assignments in the syllabus can seem overwhelming. Although it is a challenge, you can take small steps at the start of the semester to help you get great grades by the end of the semester.

The question that we answering is how to make good grades and have a strong GPA in college.

Click the video below to learn 3 tips to have a great GPA in college.

To Your College Success!

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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on How to Make the First Day of College a Success

Are you excited about the first day of college?

When you start college, the first day can be intimidating. It can feel like the first day of kindergarten, junior high, and high school all over again. Will you find all of your classes?  Will you like your professors? Will you make any new friends? This video will help you be prepared for that first day of college so that you can feel confident and prepared.  Being ready for the first day of college can help you set the tone for a successful semester!

The question we are answering is how to make the first day of college a success.

Here are three tips to help make your first day of college a success:

How do you prepare for the first day of college? Share your suggestions in the comments!

To Your College Success!

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posted by | on College Tips | Comments Off on How to Make the First Meeting with Your College Adviser a Success












Are you intimidated by scheduling classes and meeting with your adviser for the first time?

When you start college, you will meet with an adviser before the semester starts. They will help you decide on your classes and get registered. In the book, Smart Work U, I share how my first meeting with my adviser didn’t go very well. This video will help you be prepared for that first meeting and avoid the “intimidation pitfall.”

The question we are answering is how to make the first meeting with your college adviser a success.

Here are three tips for your first meeting:

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