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As you know from my 7 Worst Financial Mistakes, I have made some doozies! I have also made some really good finances moves, and I believe that it is important to recognize the things we do right. Most of my best financial moves center around school and career choices, but that’s where I’m at in my life, right now. I graduated college in December of 2012, started my job January 2013, and life has been crazy ever since!
1. Taking advantage of the largest scholarship: Shopping around for colleges was not stressful for me. I had two criteria: 1) the college must be at least 2 hours away from home and 2) find the absolute largest scholarships. Luckily, I had an excellent ACT score, which made it easy, but I still comparison shopped. I chose the college 3 hours away and that offered me a $40,000 scholarship simply for attending. I still ended up with $15,700 in student loans, but that is not too bad considering the school was around $32,000 per year!
2. Not switching majors: I think most people believe it is normal for college students to switch majors many times. I have heard that in college you are supposed to “discover yourself” and the like. I even knew a girl who changed major EIGHT times! However, I went in to college knowing exactly what I wanted to do (accounting) and I had specific goals set to get there. In fact, not switching my major at all was one of the things that allowed me to graduate a semester early, saving even more money!
3. Taking dual credit-courses: Over the course of my junior and senior year of high school I managed to take 14 credits of dual-credit courses, earning me 14 college credits as well as 14 high school credits. While they did cost me some money, the prices were at the community college rate – much cheaper than private college costs! When I went to my 4-year college, all of those credits transferred towards my general studies courses!
4. Co-op program: This one is kind of along the same vein as dual-credit courses. During my senior year of high school I had enough credits to graduate early, or I had the option to take half days at the community college in a career program. I chose the EMT program out of several options available. For the first half of the day, I attended college, and the second half was spent taking courses at my high school. I learned valuable skills, and best of all – it was free! Of course I picked up quite a few elective college credits along the way!
5. Getting married – One apartment instead of two, cooking for two people at the same time, one utility bill instead of two. Well, you get the idea. I got married at 19, which means I have saved a bunch of money! Saving money is never a reason to get married. but it certainly is a nice perk!
6. Using coupons – Some people fall into the “coupon trap” (buying things just because they have a coupon) but not me! I use coupons for items that I am going to buy whether or not I have one, and put the difference in savings. That coupon savings fund has come in handy more times than I can count!
7. Getting a job early – At 14, I marched myself into the office of my high school to get my worker’s permit. From there, I started working as a waitress, and did that for the next 7 years, all through high school and college. I got my current job as an accountant 2 weeks after graduating college – and for that I count myself very blessed. Having a job taught me an excellent work ethic as well as the value of money – both of which have to be learned through experience.
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