Tips and resources to get your finances in great shape.
At Monroe Community College, we want you to be as smart about your money as you are about your studies. So we put together some information that will help you make good decisions about how you spend your money. From creating a personal budget to borrowing to using credit cards, MCC can help you have a happy, healthy relationship with your finances.
MCC federal school code: 002872
MCC TAP school code: 2180
One of the most important financial literacy skills you can learn is creating and following a personal budget. Setting up a budget allows you to chart your income and your expenses to make sure that what you’re paying for isn’t more than what you’re earning.
Creating a budget
- Record your spending.
For one month, write down everything you spend money on: rent, car payments, everything. Right down to that pizza you bought for lunch.
- Evaluate your spending.
Compare your monthly expenses to your monthly income. If your expenses are greater than your income, you need to look at your spending habits and determine how to reduce your expenses. One way to do this is to prioritize your spending, ranking items in order of importance from basic living essentials to a daily cup of coffee.
- Create a balanced budget.
Make a spending plan where your monthly income is equal to or greater than your monthly expenses. To do this, you may need to eliminate some spending or find ways to reduce the cost of things you need.
- Stick to your budget.
Now that you have created your budget, you need to follow and stick to it!
- Set up a savings account and contribute to it regularly.
A healthy savings account can reduce the need to use a credit card for unforeseen expenses, such as car repairs or medical expenses.
- Save more by spending less.
Find less expensive options for items you need every day, like shampoo, paper towels or laundry detergent. Watch for sales and use coupons whenever possible. Every little bit counts!
To maintain a healthy budget:
- Don’t buy things you want that you don’t need
- Don’t buy expensive items when less expensive items of equal quality are available
- Create a savings account for emergencies or unforeseen expenses like car repairs and medical expenses
If you need to take out a student loan to pay for your educational expenses, ask yourself: “How much should I borrow?” Then to help answer this question, follow these guidelines:
- Borrow only what you need for your educational expenses.
- Figure out how much you’ll need to borrow to meet you educational goals, whether it’s an associate, bachelor’s, master’s degree or beyond.
- Consider what your monthly payments will be on the loan when it’s time to repay it.
- Determine what other expenses you’ll have after graduation: housing, food, transportation, health insurance, credit cards, etc.
- Use MCC’s Career Coach to research what the average starting salary is for the career field you plan to enter when you complete your college education.
- Resist the temptation to use your student loans for other things beyond your educational expenses.
These repayment calculators, created by the U.S. Department of Education, can help you determine your future monthly payments.
More information on repaying student loans can be found in the loan repayment section of the Federal Student Aid website.
Credit cards can be a helpful financial tool, but only when you use them wisely. You can purchase items right away, reduce the need to carry cash, create a record of your purchases, and even provide protection and extended warranties on your purchases.
However, if you abuse your credit cards, there can be very negative consequences. Accumulated interest, finance changes and fees can dramatically increase the overall debt on your credit card.
Some tips for managing your credit card are:
- Avoid impulse spending. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
- Pay off the balance on your credit card each month.
- Avoid credit cards with annual fees.
- Don’t use your credit card as a means to improve your lifestyle.
Be sure to think critically about every purchase you make on your credit card. And remember that due to interest and fees, you could end up paying more for something than it’s worth.
- SUNY Smart Track® Financial Literacy Tools
The State University of New York (SUNY) System has created a financial literacy education website designed to help students and families understand the costs associated with attending college and develop a financial plan for the future.
- CARE Program
The Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) Program is a free financial literacy program, which makes bankruptcy professionals available to educators, students and the public to illuminate the dangers of credit abuse.
- Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester
The Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Rochester is a non-profit community service agency dedicated to educating and empowering individuals and families to take control of their financial lives.
- HESC Smart Borrowing
The Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) provides guidelines on taking out student loans, budgeting calculators and other financial literacy tools.
- Mapping Your Future
Mapping Your Future's “Manage your money” program provides resources on budgeting, credit cards, identity theft and other financial literacy topics.
The Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) has created a financial literacy education website that enables users to find information about how to plan for a multitude of life events that have financial implications, such as the birth or adoption of a child, homeownership or retirement. The site also provides helpful money management tools including a financial savings calculator, worksheets for establishing a household budget and a college preparation checklist.