Posted on

The Worst Financial Mistake I’ve made + 2 Keys to Consider in Going to College

So, I’m Jacob Brad Johnson, I’m a ginger, I’m a Personal Financial Planner major at Utah Valley University(UVU), but was a Computer Science major at Brigham Young University (BYU) for 3 semesters before.

High School

After I graduated High School and I applied for many schools with my 3.86 GPA and 30 ACT score, I figured it’d be a cinch to get scholarships. I wanted to go to BYU, I wanted to study computers.

4 years later, I was wrong, and the worst financial mistake of my life was made.

“Congratulations Jacob on your submission to Utah Valley University,” the letter began. Later on it exclaimed these proud words, “The University would love to extend the Presidential Scholarship to you as you attend… This scholarship is renewable each year pending academic resilience each school year”

Presidential! I looked it up, screaming with delight at what I saw. This scholarship included full tuition, books, and partial housing reimbursement ($300 a month or something, as I recall for the housing portion).
2 days later I was reading another letter from BYU, my dream school. “You have been accepted to Brigham Young University, beginning Summer of 2012,” The words jumped out at me. YES! I’m IN!
I read the rest.
Reread it.
One last time to check for errors.
There was no scholarship, no anything. Oh. wait.
Nope, nothing. I received notification via email a few days later that I’d received a $300 book scholarship per semester for being a relative of some person who’d made a large scholarship fund for his descendants. That was good. ‘good’.

You Already Know What I Did

This is the moment where you all already know what happened. “Jacob, you’re such an idiot”, “What were you thinking!” “…” or other thoughts may have passed through your head.
Here’s the kicker, I had a 1/2 tuition scholarship to anywhere in the state because of the New Century Scholarship program, for graduating High School with an Associate Degree from a University. I’d have been PAID to go to UVU.

Mistake is made. BYU was attended. Computer Science studied. After a few years I didn’t like it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. Ended up transferring. Where to?

Back to Utah Valley University, studying Personal Financial Planning, sans scholarship.

Now, Money mistakes are a super common occurence, and there are much bigger mistakes that one can make (I’m talking more than $40,000 decisions). When you make one of those, you’ll know.

Do These 2 Things Before You Choose Your University

1. Know your Major. 

If you haven’t determined your major, how will you know what school is best? BYU had a better computer science program. UVU has a better Financial Planning major. If you still aren’t sure, try going to a community college or other cheaper college. Why pay the price of the expensive colleges when you can get the undergrad cheap at your local community college? It sometimes may make sense to get your associates from a different school before going to the one you’ve chosen to attend for your bachelor’s or higher degree.

If you don’t know which major to choose, or are struggling between a few, Act on THIS article I wrote recently. Basically, its how to get the thoughts and who you are down on paper to make decisions easier and with more knowledge out loud.

2. Know your scholarships. What are the implications of attending your school of choice? How will you pay for it? UVU gave me scholarships, BYU didn’t. Do you have to take on debt, is the cost that significant.

Will your major pay for the cost of going to school?  You need to know How Much Your Degree Makes to consider how much debt you could take on if you don’t have the scholarships.

Here is what I mean: Determine how much income your major going to bring, and how much debt it’ll take. Can that justify the debt you would get from going to the more expensive school? Here are 8 majors that just don’t justify their cost.

What’s your biggest financial mistake you’ve made! Share your confession with me here or tweet it at me @FinancialGinger and I’ll make it into a post you’ll see featured on my twitter and Facebook.

Posted on

4 Basic College Money Skills: How To Master Them

College always walks up and says: “Gimme money”. It’s the worst bully since Billy who always took your quarters during recess in 2nd grade!

Here are some amazing articles I’ve read about college kid money skills.
1) Getting Scholarships for school
2) avoiding Debt in College
3) how to deal with CC’s during College
4) how to start a savings account, and basics on opening an investing account

Basically, this is a really good reference and resource of some other writers work about the subjects. Feel free to comment extra resources you’ve found that are good too! I’ll make sure to update your research into this list also!

The Basics of College:

http://wellkeptwallet.com/2012/05/how-to-graduate-college-without-any-debt/

This article gives 5 basics: 1) Consider the Cost, 2) Work During School, 3) Apply for Scholarships, 4) Work for the University, 5) Be Radical – Try Crowdfunding! Thank you Deacon Hayes for this article!

https://wallethacks.com/money-tips-college-students/
Jim Wang gives one of the best and most concise run downs on 40 basic money tips in college.

Financial Advice To Start Your Military Career

I honor Doug, whom started the Military Guide. If you want to or do serve in the military, Doug knows the finances behind it.

Get The Scholarship

Jocelyn from TheScholarshipSystem shared her site, and I highly recommend it. The Best article she has, which is a freebie if you join her email list, is “The 3-Steps I Used To Write Reusable Scholarship Essays QUICKLY and That Won Me Over $125k”
http://thescholarshipsystem.com/ – her article The 10 basic steps to getting scholarships
http://thescholarshipsystem.com/ – 5 things to update on your FAFSA (Right NOW!)

 

KristinaEllis.com hosts Kristina’s books about how she paid for college “Confessions of a Scholarship Winner” and “How To Graduate Debt Free”. I met Kristina in person and FinCon16 in San Diego and would recommend her books to anyone who is serious about getting scholarships in college.

I can’t rant enough about Brynn Conroy and the wonderful FemmeFrugality site. These tools are great to understanding the mindset of applying for scholarships.

http://femmefrugality.com/how-to-write-a-successful-scholarship-essay/

http://femmefrugality.com/playing-the-odds-on-scholarship-opportunities/

http://femmefrugality.com/why-a-scholarship-resume-is-an-important-part-of-your-college-arsenal/

Hear the Ginger

Can you handle the Ginger? Be the first to get my newsletter by signing up here! :3

Avoid The Debt

Robert Farrington, a friend of mine, gave me some articles he wrote about avoiding debt and investing during college. This article is about 6 people in different situations, and how they avoided student loan debt. http://thecollegeinvestor.com/15182/6-college-graduates-share-avoided-student-loan-debt/

Jason Butler gives you the run-down on TextBooks and cutting costs here. http://thebutlerjournal.com/2013/08/09/saving-money-on-college-textbooks/

And how about the cost of an apartment? LaTisha Styles from StylesTV shares how to deal with an apartment here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UEn_k0DNb8

Credit Cards in College

http://investingdollarsandcents.com/1/post/2015/09/12-things-to-consider-if-you-want-to-start-investing.html

This article is technically about investing, but I really like that it gives you a good mindset about how to think about debt, and weigh the options in investing, saving, or paying off debt.

Where to Start Saving/Investing

The College Student’s Guide to Investing

There is no where safer to start than a website DEDICATED to college investing.

http://www.invest-safely.com/personal-finance-goals.html

The writer for Invest Safely is on point, every time. These 8 points are sure to get anyone started on the right track investing and saving.

How to Win the Stock Market Game [4 Rules]

If you want basics on how to invest in stocks, this is the place to start. It shows statistics and gives basic explanations for types of stocks, mutual funds, and other places to start with your money.

http://www.moneysmartguides.com/become-stock-market-millionaire

This is a very good basic guide explaining how to split your investing money, how to fund an account, and ways to keep your money safe. It talks about Bonds and Stocks, and good general rules for picking investments, and ways to diversify in multiple types of securities.

How to Fund a Brokerage Account and Start Investing Online

Lastly, this is a beautiful article that gives explicit details on HOW to open an account, and basic processes for utilizing it (as well as other useful information).


What are your resources you’ve liked in these areas? What do you use for credit cards? What are your beliefs? Share them with me in the comments, and I’ll be sure to put a few quotes on Instagram.

Jacob Johnson

The Financial Ginger