Don't go back to college broke

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Posted: Monday, June 23, 2014 1:00 am | Updated: 3:33 am, Mon Jun 30, 2014.

(BPT) - Roughly half of all college students find summer employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While there are no statistics for how much money those in the lucky half were able to successfully save, it’s safe to say that for a good portion of millennials, spending and summer fun, go hand in hand.

TheMintGrad, a Northwestern Mutual online resource especially designed for the unique financial needs of 18- to 24-year-olds, has some tricks for helping college students stretch those summer earnings well into the school year.

One method for preserving summer income earned is setting a savings goal. Whether it’s a spring break trip, school books, or a deposit on an off-campus apartment, working toward something tangible is a great motivator. While putting away some of those paychecks may take a bite out of disposable income, students will be grateful when their spring break isn’t being spent with their little brother in the backyard blow-up pool. The MintGrad’s budget worksheet can help balance savings objectives with other expenditures.

The good news is that while spending money is appealing at any age, Northwestern Mutual’s recently released 2014 Planning and Progress Study findings indicate that millennials are ahead of the curve. Nearly 2/3 of respondents 18-24 said they were disciplined or highly disciplined financial planners, more than their grandparents’ or parents’ generation. This means that with some guidance and support, millennials are well on their way to becoming the most financially responsible generation in history.

The key is prioritizing what to spend on while eliminating those items that are not worth the investment. Some suggestions include:

* Printers – Save space, money and the environment. If you need to print a paper, put your tuition dollars to work and use your campus’ computer lab.

* External hard drive – The clouds may not be the best place for your head, but it’s genius for data. Why spend a couple of hundred dollars on more stuff to transport to and from campus when there are options like Google Drive, Dropbox and others?

* Fancy dorm decor – While a dorm room should be comfortable, it is not a permanent home or a suite at a swank hotel. Considering that there is a strong chance that roommates and friends will trash some of your stuff, it makes sense to channel the money that would be spent on fancy bedding or wall decor into savings or something that will last longer than a few semesters. For more “just say no” items, check out this article on the Mint Grad at www.themintgrad.org/socialize/2013/09/10-things-college-students-dont-need.

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