Author Topic: Financial advice for a college student  (Read 5679 times)

bak

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Financial advice for a college student
« on: June 22, 2012, 05:20:31 AM »
First of all, I am not a US citizen. My first issue arose when I realized that I won't be able to find a job outside the University. Thankfully, I was informed that I am qualified to get a green card which I will be applying for in July (it takes 6-13 months). I think I am very frugal, especially for American standards. I haven't been enticed by marketing or anything here and that's not because of a conscious decision to stop myself but rather I never valued spending money or even thinking about money. However, I always think of what I buy as an investment. Thus I am reaching to this community in order to get some financial advice on how I should approach things. I have read the blog posts for all my questions I just want some personal input.

1) Health insurance. Right now I am paying 300$ to the University for medical care, which is NOT insurance, but it doesn't have any emergency or pharmaceutical back up which I think is important. I have done the math and I know that my chances are slim (and that's why it is cheaper for me to acquire insurance...) but still it's something that this year has been annoying me not to have. Using ehealthinsurance and saying that I am both a college student and a tobacco users gives me the least a 51$ per month insurance, I don't know if this is fair or even manageable? I am asking you for that. Also, as I stated above I don't like paying things monthly, I like investing. Could I get a better deal by paying yearly?

2) I am in the process of getting my drivers license (I know it's late but oh well, I didn't have to pay gas for a year). The car is absolutely needed as here in Virginia a bike is not manageable (I live in my uncles house which 20miles outside campus). I have a budget for 5000$ for the car, Toyota Echo seems the right choice if you ask me. What about the insurance for the car? I want to make some calculations in order to see the overall cost of maintaining a car. I will try and learn more in order to be able to fix it on my own. I also want a manual (the European I am) which is harder to find, but I will be waiting for it to come around.

3) Generally, I have no loans, and I really despise them as a concept. I don't want to own anyone anything. What are some things that you think I have to do in order to have financial security. I really am the person that wants to have everything in order and not think about money, I want to focus in science and that's the only thing. So yeah, what things that need to be taken care of from now haven't I thought. Take into account that I haven't lived in America for long so I don't know what I will eventually need? For example, do you think I should find a job while in college?

grantmeaname

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2012, 09:37:52 AM »
Should you get a job in college? It depends.
How much does college cost? How are you paying for it now? If you have enough now, will you have enough after paying for health insurance? Car insurance? Will you ever leave the country to visit your family at home?

twinge

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2012, 10:06:43 AM »
Quote
For example, do you think I should find a job while in college?

This is more "professional" advice than financial advice, but in the long term they are often highly correlated:

It may differ by field, but you mention you're in the sciences and there I think it's important to try and develop connections with faculty and do work in the university related to your major.  I would recommend volunteering on projects related to your field if there are no paid opportunities for undergrad research assistants (if you're in undergrad).  Talk to your faculty advisor or a professor that you had a good course with and ask them how you can develop your experience in the field and be open and willing to many possibilities.  Even if you're not planning on going into research/graduate study, the connections you develop will help you.  Part of what you're paying for by being in college is having access to this rich network.  Many students are not aware that just going to classes and doing well enough in them is not really the full "work" of attending college, but no one will force you to push beyond that.  Post-docs and doctoral students are also potential resources--see if there are volunteer opportunities on their projects--they are usually fairly short-lived and give you another line item as you build a resume. If they are seeking academic positions, "mentoring an undergrad" can be valuable for them.  These actions definitely help you if you want to go onto graduate study, but I think they can help your learning and your professional contacts even if you don't.

 

bak

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2012, 10:16:57 AM »
Should you get a job in college? It depends.
How much does college cost? How are you paying for it now? If you have enough now, will you have enough after paying for health insurance? Car insurance? Will you ever leave the country to visit your family at home?

College costs nothing for me. And I do have family support for everything else. That doesn't mean I want to squeeze all the family money to me... that's why I want to be frugal. I know this might sound immature but a car is a must. (which means car insurance as well...) If you think I don't need health insurance please say so. I am currently visiting my family, it will probably happen once a year or less.

Quote
For example, do you think I should find a job while in college?

This is more "professional" advice than financial advice, but in the long term they are often highly correlated:

It may differ by field, but you mention you're in the sciences and there I think it's important to try and develop connections with faculty and do work in the university related to your major.  I would recommend volunteering on projects related to your field if there are no paid opportunities for undergrad research assistants (if you're in undergrad).  Talk to your faculty advisor or a professor that you had a good course with and ask them how you can develop your experience in the field and be open and willing to many possibilities.  Even if you're not planning on going into research/graduate study, the connections you develop will help you.  Part of what you're paying for by being in college is having access to this rich network.  Many students are not aware that just going to classes and doing well enough in them is not really the full "work" of attending college, but no one will force you to push beyond that.  Post-docs and doctoral students are also potential resources--see if there are volunteer opportunities on their projects--they are usually fairly short-lived and give you another line item as you build a resume. If they are seeking academic positions, "mentoring an undergrad" can be valuable for them.  These actions definitely help you if you want to go onto graduate study, but I think they can help your learning and your professional contacts even if you don't.

 

I have thought all of that, and I have made connections with professors. However, it is not possible to do so in my sophomore year (or at least the first semester) as such I was thinking of finding a job although I have maxed out my credits.

I'm living in richmond and cars on craigslist seem to have an inflated price from KBB. (the car is my most serious problem right now).

TLV

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2012, 10:28:11 AM »
I'm living in richmond and cars on craigslist seem to have an inflated price from KBB.

Cars on craigslist will always have inflated asking prices. Most sensible people expect negotiation on cars. Once you've found a car that meets your needs and has a KBB (or better yet, Edmunds.com) value that meets your willingness to spend, ask if they'd be willing to consider an offer at your price (and explain that your offer is based on the KBB value, and conditional on test drive/inspection/etc.). This assumes you have the cash in hand, of course.

grantmeaname

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2012, 10:36:50 AM »
If you think I don't need health insurance please say so.
No, I didn't mean to imply that at all. You need health insurance, period, end of story. Foregoing health insurance is stupid. Case in point: I had a bad stomach virus a month ago and went to the ER. Between a handful of diagnostic tests and things like the IV treatment, the cost came to $6100, mostly paid by the insurance. If the insurance hadn't paid for it (because US insurance providers are actually Healthcare Management Organizations that negotiate volume price discounts, among other things), it would have been nearly $10k, which is about the upper limit on a college student's annual income. Just like that, the last 12 months of your earnings are gone. Health insurance is stupidly expensive in this country. Healthcare is even more stupidly expensive. You can't afford to go without it, and you shouldn't try.

grantmeaname

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2012, 10:45:38 AM »
I have thought all of that, and I have made connections with professors. However, it is not possible to do so in my sophomore year (or at least the first semester) as such I was thinking of finding a job although I have maxed out my credits.
Your first job is to do well in your courses. If you're taking a full courseload (I assume this is what you mean by maxing your credits), you should consider whether a part time job is going to hurt your academic performance, and whether any free time you have now could be better put towards your studies. If not, you could consider a job, but I wouldn't be so sure that there's nothing whatsoever outside the classroom that you could do to advance your studies. Twinge has some incredible advice on how to do so, and I won't repeat it again here. Being an exceptional student with no pocket change is much better than being a good student with three years' experience delivering pizza.

$_gone_amok

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2012, 12:40:15 PM »
I believe that if you are a student in an university, you are required to have health insurance (at least from my experience). Often time the school will have a contract with a insurance company to provide volume discount to students. You should look into this. 

Why are you paying the school $300 for medical care if it isn't insurance?

P.S stop smoking, its killing you.

arebelspy

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2012, 03:45:57 PM »
I believe that if you are a student in an university, you are required to have health insurance (at least from my experience).

[Citation needed.]

How exactly would that be enforced?  You have to show proof of health insurance to the university each semester or they won't let you enroll in classes?
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$_gone_amok

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2012, 03:51:02 PM »
I didn't go to UVA but here's what I find on google. I went to a UC with similar policy.

http://www.virginia.edu/studenthealth/insurance.html


arebelspy

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2012, 04:39:57 PM »
I didn't go to UVA but here's what I find on google. I went to a UC with similar policy.

http://www.virginia.edu/studenthealth/insurance.html

Okay.   So new students need to show proof. 

Any idea how they enforce it for current students?
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sol

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2012, 04:47:52 PM »
Okay.   So new students need to show proof. 

Any idea how they enforce it for current students?

When I was in school, graduate students were required to have health insurance as a condition of their employment.  If you didn't submit paperwork to show you were otherwise covered, they automatically enrolled you in the university plan and took the premiums out of your paycheck.

Undergrad was a little different.  They had a campus health care system that was paid for out of your tuition and minor copays, but it only covered prescriptions and mostly routine stuff, like sicknesses and minor injuries.  If you had a catastrophic accident they sent you to a local hospital.

Bartleby

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2012, 05:26:05 PM »
I didn't go to UVA but here's what I find on google. I went to a UC with similar policy.

http://www.virginia.edu/studenthealth/insurance.html

Okay.   So new students need to show proof. 

Any idea how they enforce it for current students?

UVa alum here (although the OP does not go to UVa, that is in Charlottesville and the OP is in Richmond).  They call you in to prove you have insurance at the start of each semester if they don't have it on file.  If you don't provide proof, you can't enroll in classes.

I did have a friend who bought it for "proof" and canceled right afterwards each time.  I wouldn't recommend that.

OP, I think the $51 ehealthinsurance policy is about as good as you will do.  I also really recommend getting it.  If you can get your hands on the deductable amount if something bad happens, then go with the cheap catastrophic coverage.  We are talking about a policy that kicks in for stuff like having your spine severed in an accident or being diagnosed with cancer at that level.  Realize that a visit to an emergency department with a high deductable plan could also be financially devastating for a student.  Try to stay healthy but have the catastrophic coverage in place in case things go very wrong.  I am a doctor myself and while a lot of health issues are preventable with good diet and exercise, plenty of people end up drawing the short straw and acquire problems that simply are not.

I also recommend that you check out Cal Newport's "Study Hacks" blog as a starting college student.  It has stellar advice, and while I didn't know about or follow all of it during college I think the advice he gives is golden.  For the job, my advice is don't do it if you can avoid it at all if it does not add to your education.  Spend college growing as a person, excelling academically, and having great experiences socially.  Graduating with a 3.9 GPA and multiple accomplishments would be much better in my mind than graduating with a 3.3 and fewer accomplishments because you were overworked with a job (and better than sacrificing your social life to keep both that 3.9 and the job!).  Become excellent at whatever it is you choose to do and the market should reward you later!

bak

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2012, 06:09:51 PM »
I am quoting one person but I am talking generally here.

I believe that if you are a student in an university, you are required to have health insurance (at least from my experience). Often time the school will have a contract with a insurance company to provide volume discount to students. You should look into this. 

Why are you paying the school $300 for medical care if it isn't insurance?

P.S stop smoking, its killing you.

As someone  noted I am not attending UVA. As can be seen here (http://www.students.vcu.edu/health/health_insurance.html) the policy is that you get most of the doctors visits (vaccinations etc) except: "Student Health Services has no infirmary beds and does not cover the cost of emergency room visits, x-rays, medications or hospitalization." Basically the emergencies. They market a health insurance for VCU students but its $2180 annually instead of the ~600$ of the one below: (frankly that's the only reason I didn't purchase such a health insurance... it's too expensive)

However I would like to know if a plan like this, http://www.ehealthinsurance.com/ehi/ifp/plan-details?planKey=2206:100003&productLine=IFP&ifpUIState.planDetailsBackUrl=/ifp/best-sellers , be of use to me? What does it actually cover?

PS: Everybody knows smoking is degrading to their health, we apparently have to pay extra for that as well, some of us have made a conscious choice to smoke anyway so lets please not get into that.

arebelspy

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Re: Financial advice for a college student
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2012, 06:26:54 PM »
UVa alum here (although the OP does not go to UVa, that is in Charlottesville and the OP is in Richmond).  They call you in to prove you have insurance at the start of each semester if they don't have it on file.  If you don't provide proof, you can't enroll in classes.

I did have a friend who bought it for "proof" and canceled right afterwards each time.  I wouldn't recommend that.


Perfect! Thanks for the info!
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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