New year, new you? Not sure what to do? Whether you're planning to amp up your money smarts, get involved with the community, or make some professional networking connections, we've got you covered with some tips and tricks. Julie, today's guest contributor from Skyo, has put together a quick guide to proactively preparing for your future. Use these ideas to make your new year's resolutions or to make long-term changes over the next few years. It's your future – plan for it proactively!
A wise man once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This wise man’s name was Benjamin Franklin, and maybe one day, you too can be as successful as Mr. Franklin. Maybe that is a stretch, but it’s far too common for college age students, and I was no exception, to procrastinate certain steps or engagements that contribute to immediate and future success. By carrying out the few strategies below, you can start to proactively shape your future to the successful life you desire.
Set a Budget, and Stick to it
Because this might be the first time away from home and you might not be used to all the different expenses, it could take a month or two in order to set a budget. But once you can get a feel for your expenses, it’s time to sit down and write out a monthly budget plan. When creating a budget plan, be sure to include expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, eating out, weekend activities, etc. And now for the hard part, sticking to the budget you set. If over pacing occurs, which it always does, try and counter act by slowing the pace of another expense.
Make Smart Purchases
Impulse buys are the death of maintaining a good budget. While something might seem like it’s the apple of your eye, it’s probably not. Don’t give in to little things than can off set your budget. Whether its accessories, entertainment, food, or drinks, all these little things add up and make a huge dent it your budget plan.And when it is time to make a purchase, try and be as frugal as possible, without sacrificing too much quality. I suggest buying generic brands when possible, taking public transportation when given the option, renting textbooks instead of buying, and choosing the optimal meal plan for your appetite. These are just a few of the indefinite ways you can reduce your expenses.
Take a Personal Finance Course
While not all majors require you to take a personal finance class, I strongly advise that every student enroll in at least one before graduating. A personal finance course doesn’t only teach you how to budget correctly, but you will also learn how to invest properly, build good credit, pay taxes correctly, and rid yourself of debt.
Take every opportunity to speak, perform, or present publicly
Similar to a personal finance class, I believe that every college student should take at least one form of a public speaking class. No matter what career path you end up taking, public speaking is one of the most important skills you can develop. Whether its business development, or talking in front of friends and family, public speaking is a skill worth honing.
Microsoft Excel is one of the most useful and widely used programs out there, and almost every job posting you’ll find requires some excel experience. My advice is to take an Excel class in college. Make sure you know how to navigate through Excel as well as the basic functions. Being proficient in this program, no matter what career path you decide, will benefit you in the future.
Get involved with the Community
While community service might not always be the most exciting way to spend your time, it is a crucial deed that not only benefits the community, but also yourself. Of course the main reasons for participating in community service programs are to give back to the community while also fulfilling your civic duties as a community member; community service also promotes personal growth and rises in self-esteem. There have been many experiments and reports that prove when focusing on someone or something other than you, stress levels can be reduced. In addition to benefiting the community and yourself, you’re also benefiting your future. When being interviewed, community service examples and cases are great talking points to illustrate your great attributes.
This might seem like a layup for most, but you’d be surprised how many students procrastinate utilizing their career resources. The most common excuses are “I have plenty of time to find a job” or “I’m going into a family business anyways”. But what I want to emphasize is that building relationships is key for any career path, and making connections early on will only expedite this process.While your campus’ career center is a great place to build resumes, participate in mock interviews, and find information on industries, career fairs are best for actually creating relationships with influential people. And when you do meet those influential people at career fairs, don’t be afraid to follow up via email or LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a fantastic place to create connections, show off skill sets, and list experiences. While social networks are great for connecting with people, they can also pose as a double edged sword. If used correctly, social networks can land you a job. But it used incorrectly, social networks can be the reason you don’t get a job. It’s important to be cautious about what is posted online; you never know who is watching.
This post is contributed by Skyo, an online site that helps college students save money with cheap textbooks and flexible rental options.
Which of these proactive resolutions are at the top of your to-do list for this year and for life?