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The Ultimate Cost Saver in College: 4 steps

My father during his last semester of college told my mom, “Wait… I don’t want to major in business. I want to be a chef”.

Needless to say, he didn’t go to chef school. Many of us spend years bouncing around in majors of college and end up with all this needless classwork.

This is the key to saving both Time and Money in college.

Get the Right Major the First Time

This is easier than it sounds. First, you need a vision. If you don’t have one, use this nifty little template. (Jokes, that’s a link to my article about writing a vision statement)

But seriously, the most important thing in deciding your major is knowing who you REALLY are. Who are you? What makes you tick? Figure that out.

Here’s the process:

  1. Lists about you
  2. Interviews
  3. Comparison Charts
  4. Have 1 “figure-it-out” semester

This is the process I used to break into my major quickly. The reason it’s so good in saving you money is because of the time you spend going to college. Sure, earning a couple scholarships for $400 or $500 a piece is great, but if you can go to school for 2 semesters less because you didn’t change a major, then you just saved 2 semesters of tuition which is average about $9-10,000 dollars.

Here is, The Ultimate Cost Saver in College.

Step 1: Lists

List out 20 majors you’re interested in.

List out 20 Jobs you could enjoy doing.

It’s important to get to a larger number, so you really consider things you actually enjoy. Everyone is able to find 3 or 4 things they like, but can you get 20? Narrow it down to a top 5. Maybe a trusted friend, or therapist, or coach, or school counselor could help you narrow the list down a bit.

My Step 1: I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life after finishing a 2 year service mission in New Zealand.  The starting list included skills with dancing (I was a 4th place Titleist in Youth-American-Smooth at BYU Nationals in Ballroom in 2013), a love for computers, good conversational skills (I hope), loving people, loving group interactions, breaking ideas into pieces, loving competition and other factors. It was easy to identify event planning, financial services, and global supply chain management as 3 possible majors, among others.

Step 2: Interviews

Find people in each industry that you know (or don’t!) and interview them. This is cake. Ask people on social media, google companies that work in that industry, it’s not too hard to find someone. Most respectable people will give you 15 minutes to interview them.

You need good questions: Here is a basic list:

What makes your job worth it?

How did you end up working in this industry?

How much do people get paid working in your industry?

How do you help people?

What are the best certifications or skills to learn success?

What personality types work well in this industry?

How do you get into the industry running fast?

Is this a 40 hour a week job? How much time do you need to invest to achieve excellence?

Interviewing  5 people in each industry will give you a good way to benchmark what they enjoy, pros and cons, income levels, what they hate, skills they utilize frequently, career path and progression, and other little details you want to know.

My Step 2: After calling up a few old friends, and posting on Facebook about wanting to talk to professionals in these areas (in separate posts on different days. Posting a list of things on Facebook gets zero responses. and you want more than zero), I was able to interview a few event planners, financial planners, and a few supply chain management experts. The leader of my service mission (over 200+ of us missionaries) was a supply chain expert for UPS during his working days, my old dance partners father is a financial planner, and a man from my church back home is a very successful event planner. This grew into more interviews. My Girlfriend sent me to the finance guy for her company at a local Edward Jones branch. My interviews grew and grew and I really learned the good, the bad, and the ugly of each industry.

Step 3: Compare

If you’ve read many of my articles, you’ve probably seen that I often say “Ask your friend, boss, etc to shorten down this list with you.” or “Ask your friend if that’s really you”.

Same here! Ask people what they think, and maybe make a weighted list or pros and cons for each, then weight how important that is to you. Then you can almost make a weighted average of how important it is.

My Step 3: I didn’t make a weighted list for this (Such a Hypocrite, ae?) but I’ve done this with many projects. Deciding where to spend money, choosing to live at home or live on my own during college, If I should paint my room blue on the top half or blue on the bottom half, and other ‘very important’ decisions, or less important decisions.

 Step 4: It’s okay to have a “Figure-it-out” semester

Maybe it’d be good to take one semester and take 1 or 2 classes in each major you’ve picked. It’s also a great time to talk to counselors and teachers and continue working on clarifying step 3 (compare) and spend more time on step 2 (interviews).

Realize that rushing through college isn’t fun. There are scholarships you can get while in school, there are lots of governmental aid that you can get, and there is college life. Do you really want to be out of school in the big world at 21? Consider studying abroad, finding side hustle opportunities, start a business, do something epic during school time. Summer is the opportunity to work at a hotel in Alaska, work on a fishing boat on the sea, working in hospitality in Australia, or building up certifications, skills, and hobbies that can contribute to your overall balance in life.

Remember,

Lists, Interviews, Comparison tables, and Take a semester to figure it out.

Jacob Johnson

The Financial Ginger

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Guest Writer: The Envelope Budget And Running Away

From guest writer: Flia

Running away taught me a lot. It taught me a lot about trust. It taught me a lot about making my own decisions. It taught me a lot about budgeting my money. It taught me that what might seem like a terrible decision could be the best thing that I’ve ever done for myself.

WAIT! WHAT?

Back up a little bit!

It taught me about budgeting? Believe it or not, yes it did.

And that’s just what I’m here to explain.

I realize that most of you reading this do not know me and so a little background is necessary. Shortly after my 19th birthday, I ran away from home. I am not going to go into details as to why, because that’s not what I’m writing about.

Three days beforehand, I bought a train ticket from Indiana to Utah. That same day, I started cashing out my bank account. My specific bank would only let me withdraw $300 a day. Although you could get around this rule by also using an ATM that was not associated with a bank (such as an ATM at a Wal-Mart).

By the time I got on the train and left Indiana, I had about $1,500 in cash, my backpack, and my duffel bag. And I had a 48 hour train ride to figure out what to do next.

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Forty-Eight hours on a train

About six hours into the trip I was really bored and hanging out in the snack cart where I knew I would be left alone. Because of how bored I was, I was starting to become delusional. That was the point that I decided to budget my money.

It’s not that I’d never done any budgeting before, but all of my previous budgeting had been done on electronic day planners and such. I didn’t have any of that with me so I had to do a little creative thinking.

The first thing I did was brainstorm and write down a list of everything that I would need money for. My list ended up something like this:

  • Travel & Gas (for whoever would be picking me up at the train station)
  • Food (on the train)
  • Food (elsewhere)
  • Lodging (hotel or staying with a friend)
  • Non-Food Necessities (toiletries/clothes/medication)
  • Emergency/Extra

After I had categorized everything, I began to determine about how much (or what percentage) of my money needed to go towards what. Things such as gas money for the friend that picked me up at the station was relatively easy. I looked up the number of miles between his place and the station and back. Then I determined the average miles per gallon on the specific type of truck that he had, and figured in the average price of gas in the area. After I knew how much gas the trip would have taken him, I could effectively reimburse him. All of that math was probably not necessary, but like I said, I was delusional.

Every other category followed similarly.  Food on the train is ridiculously expensive, even the prepackaged snacks. I found the cheapest food with the most nutrients (which was kind of a joke by the way-it is a snack cart-it’s all garbage) and rationed that extremely carefully. Also, because I had spent a majority of my time in the snack cart, I ended up befriending the guy that ran it. He’s a pretty neat guy. And I ended up getting some free snacks out of it too. That was a bonus!

After I had figured out each of the categories and how much money I would allot to each one, I had to figure out how to separate the money physically. It would be much easier to spend responsibly when I could actually have a visual.

NOTE CARDS!

budget20-20istock_000041295790_largeI had a package of note cards in my purse! I never leave home without them. Each budget got one note card. I folded it in half, lined side inward, and on the outside wrote which category it was. The lined inside would serve as a ledger. Every time I spent money from that card, I would subtract the amount that I spent and write in the new total.

And I am not quite sure why I just explained that because you really should already know how to use a ledger.

Any leftover money that did not get spent would go into my Emergency/Extra fund. This money was kept in an entirely separate compartment of my wallet.

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Out of sight, out of mind. It would be used in case of emergency, depleted funds, of on something necessary that I would inevitably forget about. For instance, I had no cell phone. I ended up shelling out a little less than $25 for a burn phone and some minutes.

Although I was not out in Utah very long before continuing on to my next place, I still use this method of budgeting. I get paid through a paycard (a bank less debit card) and cash out 85% of my earnings every payday. Savings go into a tin under my bed (out of sight, out of mind) and everything else is separated into neat little note cards in my wallet.

So yeah, I guess you could say that running away taught me about budgeting.

Thanks to Flia for the guest post! The envelope is a basic budget that really gets stuff done. What do you do to keep track of your money? What is your story?

I always love to hear your money ideas, so email me at [email protected]

Flia is a college student studying forensic biochemistry. She is an avid artist and is currently working on multiple commissioned pieces. Although she is now residing in Kansas, she has lived a little bit of everywhere and isn’t overly attached to one particular place. In her spare time, Flia likes to read, practice new art techniques, and baby-sit for family-friends.

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Why you want a Certified Financial Planner, Why I don’t want to just be a “Financial Advisor”

Confidence comes through cognizance.

Now, everyone has heard the term ‘Financial Advisor’ before. However, did you know that not all terms mean what you think they mean.

Literally anyone can be a Financial Advisor. According to Investopedia,

“Financial advisor” is a generic term with no precise industry definition… What may pass as a financial advisor in some instances may be a product salesperson, such as a stockbroker or a life insurance agent. A true financial advisor should be a well-educated, credentialed, experienced, financial professional who works on behalf of his clients as opposed to serving the interests of a financial institution.

“Go to college;” I’m now a Financial Advisor by the legal definition. “Spend all your tax refunds on Pringles and Custom Baby-Seal Leather Boots;” I’m now a Financial Advisor. “Put that million dollars you inherited into this annuity;” I’m now a Financial Advisor and, depending on the company I work for, possibly $30,000 richer (assuming a 3% commission, some can be as high as 10%!).

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A well diversified Pringle portfolio
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Custom Leather Boots – Good Investment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on this link and print your own certificate of being a certified Financial Advisor from Last Week Tonight’s Financial Advisor Academy signed by John Oliver, the Dean of Financery! That’s how easy it is to say you’re a Financial Advisor.

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Boom – My dog is a Financial Advisor

The reason I want to be a Certified Financial Planner Designee is so that those served will be confident and secure the advice they are given is for their best interest. A CFP designation requires a LOT of work. Here are some of the many requirements

  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • Mastery of 100 topics of financial planning
  • Classes and credit hours in these areas:
    • Insurance Planning
    • Employee Benefits Planning
    • Investment and Securities Planning
    • State and Federal Income Tax Planning
    • Estate Planning
    • Retirement Planning
    • Asset Protection Planning
    • Estate Tax, Gift Tax, and Transfer Tax Planning
    • Financial Counselling
    • Capstone Course
  • Passing a 6 hour test with 170 questions about the application of the 100 areas including:
    • Two case studies
    • Mini-case problem sets
    • Stand-alone questions
    • This test has about a 42% pass rate
  • 3 years of work experience in all areas
    • Establishing and Defining Relationships
    • Gather Client Data and Goals
    • Analysing and Evaluating Financial Status
    • Developing and Presenting Financial Planning Recommendations and Alternatives (yeah. you can’t give one idea, but a cluster of them)
    • Implementing the choice
    • Monitoring the Financial Plan

Oh. And there are is more. There are ongoing requirements to be a CFP Designee.

There is a strict code of ethics involving criminal background checks and compliance to track everything you do. Every two year period requires thirty hours of ongoing continuing education.

Also, you CAN’T have a CFP Certification if you’ve had any of these.

  • Felony conviction for theft, embezzlement or any other financial crime
  • Felony for tax fraud
  • Revocation of any professional license previously (with exceptions)
  • Felony conviction for any degree of murder or rape
  • Felony for a violent crime in the last 5 years.
  • Two or more bankruptcies (with exceptions)

So, except for a violent crime lasting 5 years on your record, anything else is a permanent block from ever being a CFP Designee.

Who would you rather work with on creating your financial action plan?

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CFP Designees provide the best advice

Do you understand why it’s worth looking for a CFP with all of that under their belt, compared to just a “Financial Advisor” (I hope you printed that URL off, because if so, you’re an Advisor now, too!)

My interest in studying financial planning by becoming a CFP Designee is to help individuals feel aware, secure, and prepared for retirement. The peace that comes from knowing you are acting and achieving your own goals financially is  powerful and strong that builds real confidence to act. I’m also motivated to become a CFP Designee because it is something that is universal and needed for everyone; this field is a way to help all individuals and therefore families too, no exceptions. A CFP designation gives strong support to show I can do comprehensive planning, and have dedication to providing value and accuracy.  Attendance at finance conferences, Financial Planning Association meetings, and volunteer work through my school’s student financial counselling centre, the Money Management Resource Centre, are all ways I’m becoming as knowledgeable I can for the benefit of those I will work for. Individuals need help on a vision, and then they can make the wise decision.

I want to help millennial entrepreneurs, newlyweds, dance teachers, college students, and the active high paced people of today to understand how their money works and how to keep their wealth from slipping through their fingers. People are scared of money, or worried about money. If they are cognizant then they can be confident. My goal is to become a reliable counsellor; I will be a planner to help others make educated choices to feel confident and prepared to reach their vision: bear hunting in Europe, having a large family, creating a company from scratch, or planning 40 years in advance for retirement.

– Jacob Johnson is a student of Personal Financial Planning at Utah Valley University, He is a member of the student Financial Planning Association there and enjoys competitive ballroom dance.

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– Thank you Rebekah White for the wonderful craftsmanship and help in editing and reviewing my writing. Thank you for helping me to be confident. Rebekah has a degree in Creative Writing and helps authors and individuals express their thoughts in more effective and clear methods using their own natural voice. * If you’d like contact to her please let me know!

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I Got A Credit Score!

Remember my article “Seriously, No Credit Score?” Well. Guess who got a credit score?

 

This guy did!
Despite all of the suggestions and thoughts I had, I discovered that the process was a little bit harder than expected.

The Process

First off, applying for credit isn’t as easy as you’d think, I got turned down on a credit card before I wisened up and realized I couldn’t get the best card ever because of my lack of a record. So, I applied for a secured credit card and put about $50 bucks as collateral. MasterCard gave me a $200 limit against my initial deposit, which I intend to utilize for a few things here and there, and then pay it off immediately. This will give me a revolving credit style that is beneficial.

Second, I applied for a line of credit at my credit union. They offered me $100, $200, $500, and $1000 limits, depending on how much I was willing to take on in APR. I chose the $500 option, because I know it isn’t smart to utilize more than 25% of your credit limit. I could make a significant purchase on this limit and auto-set it to pay from my checking and savings at the end of each month.

The third thing that I did was apply for a Credit Builder Loan through my credit union. I locked up $500 of my own money, and I am paying my credit union back that same $500 (it’s basically a forced savings) at the end of the year. I get my $500 back plus most of the $500 I payed them, and I’ll have an entire year of credit payments on my account.

 

Thoughts about each option:

Credit Card: This one is the most fearful for me. If I’m late on payments, or never use it, I easily lose a lot of money, $50 plus $35 (explain these amounts), and it goes on my record. I still have this card in the envelope because I accidentally delivered it to my home address while I was living in Kansas City. I recently returned home, so I intend to start using it now. Cards like this have a VERY high APR, and the first time you mess up they slap you with a fee and your APR goes even higher. If you’re gonna get a card like this, pay it off immediately and put 12 reminders on your phone, your girlfriend’s phone, and your dog’s phone (Yes these exist. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2547788/Even-Fidos-got-dog-bone-Owners-stay-contact-pooch-using-video-phone-pets.html ), and put it on Autopay if you can. (Voluntary Automation :D)

Line of credit:. This is basically the same as the credit card, but because it’s with my credit union, it isn’t as expensive, and it’s linked to my account, meaning they have it on Autopay for the entire amount (or just a percentage if I so choose. Which I don’t.) I might act a little bit intense, but I’m big on not spending more money than I have.

The biggest pitfall with having a line of credit is feeling that you are able to live outside your means. If you do that, and only pay the minimum required payments, you are stuck paying huge interest on your credit cards. If you remember from previous articles, you should have an accountability partner who you can use to keep you from overspending.

Credit Builder Loan: This one is easily my favorite. It’s so simple that only took 15 minutes because it was through my bank . It’s super cheap,  you pay monthly and put it on auto-pay. I can pay early if I want or can pay off the entire balance at any time. The total cost to do this for an entire year is about $35 dollars.

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My actions moved my score from zero to… almost hero

The Results:

Now on to the powerful part. I got myself that credit score. First credit scores are never amazing, and they have a lot of weak points. For example, my score shows that I only have 1  month of history reported. It shows that I have 5 or 6 inquiries onto my accounts. It’s also through Credit Karma, so it’s got some slight sway depending on what I want to use the credit for (http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/how-to-find-your-real-fico-credit-score-free/ Jeff Rose Has a good article about some issue with getting credit scores like this)

He explains in his article that he found his score in the 750’s, and went through a huge process to find a real credit score. After that, his intern figured out his score, and it was low 600’s, but he had no credit cards or credit history.

My issue is the same. I have 1 credit card, 1 loan, and 1 line of credit. Because of that I have a low number of accounts, my average open length of an account is very low, and the amount of hard inquiries that I’ve had in the last few months shows to be 3 for my credit scores. These can be bad signs and reduce my score.

BUT I HAVE A SCORE!

There we go! 669 and 664. 2 of the 3 credit bureaus.

What’s your story about your credit history? Share in the comments below!

 

 

-Jacob Brad Johnson is a Personal Financial Planning student at Utah Valley University who enjoys board games, West Coast Swing dancing, and helping his friends to save money on taxes. He strives to become a Certified Financial Planner designee and help the world to live their dreams and retire with confidence.

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Shout out to Briana! Thanks for helping to edit and reformat this article!

-Briana Beers graduated from BYU with a degree in English and editing. She’s currently a stay-at-home mom who moonlights as an editor in her rare spare time. When she’s not chasing her kids or cleaning three week old food splatters off the light switches, she enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with loved ones.

 

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So, I started a Website Today (Welcome to my site!)

Today was a typical Saturday. Slept in, tried to cook something but ended up eating nutter butter’s instead. Complained to my girlfriend about how fat I am. Tried to read that book for the fifth time but haven’t actually cracked the cover.

But, Here I go.

Blog Opening -

The purpose of this website is so people can see what I can offer for them. You need to think, what is this guy all about? He is alive and knows things, but what things does he know?

I’m going to show you a bunch of knowledge that stays in my head that can move to your head! Hopefully we’ll both be the better for it.

Catch my Resume page to see some things about me, where School is, home is, certifications, goals, aspirations, that weird business I started as a kid, and maybe I’ll even get descriptive about that weird mostly faded birth mark on my upper left thigh, who knows.

Hopefully this will become a growing resource of financial tools and thoughts you can use to navigate your personal journey. Perhaps this is for an employer scoping out to see if that tall red head could produce value. This website is the tool for you.

If you don’t find what you need, please. email me at [email protected] give me a text at my personal number (801) 500-8710.

I want to create the tools and resources you need to be financially successful, so if you want to know something. I will find the answers for you, or I will die trying

Sincerely,

 

Jacob Brad Johnson

-Student of Personal Financial Planning, Utah Valley University
-Expected class of December 2017,
-Planned to sit for CFP Certification March 2018
-Committee of UVU Financial Planning Association (FPA) Student Chapter
-Lover of Ballroom Dance and West Coast Swing