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Your Finances

Receipts, calculator, calendar and pen

Understanding the basics of money management skills such as living within a budget, handling credit and debt, and planning for retirement will provide a solid financial foundation that can lead to a lifetime of financial success.

  • Be accountable and responsible
    The first step on the path to financial success is accepting accountability and responsibility. Understand that you are the one in control of your financial future, and every decision or choice you make can have a significant impact.
  • Plot your course
    Step two on the path to financial success involves planning. It is impossible to effectively manage your finances if you don't know how much money you have available to spend or how you want to budget the money you have. You need to create a road map by defining your financial goals. Establishing a budget and sticking to it is not easy, but it is the best way to ensure that you are in control of your financial future. Think of your budget as a "spending plan." It is a way to be aware of how much money you have, where it needs to go, and how much, if any, is left over.
    Video: Don't Buy It If You Can't Afford It
  • Establishing a Budget
  • Borrow smart
    At some point you may need to borrow money (take out a loan). It is imperative that you borrow smart if you want to maintain your financial stability.
  • Manage your credit cards wisely
    Credit cards are designed for people with income. They are a convenience, but can test your self-control and you must strive to only use them if you plan on paying the balance in full at the end of each month. When selecting a credit card, make certain you have selected one with the most affordable options and no hidden costs.
  • Review and understand your credit report
    A credit report is a collection of information about you and your credit history and will have a significant impact on your financial future.
  • Know when to ask for help
    The final step on the path to financial success is knowing when to request assistance. These warning signs will indicate financial problems:
  • Are you living paycheck to paycheck with no money going into savings?
  • Are you alternating which bills to pay each month, leaving some unpaid?
  • Are your payments often late?
  • Are you using one credit card to make the payments on another?
  • Do you have creditors calling you?
  • Are you being denied credit


College Success

College Students in Graduation Gowns

College is a different world and you must learn the rules in order to be successful. It is an investment you make in your future so make wise choices. Here are several tips to make your time in school more beneficial and less costly.

  • GO TO CLASS! – Class attendance is key to becoming a successful student.
  • Develop a plan to finish school on time – Set realistic goals for completing your program of study.
  • Consult an adviser – An adviser can help with course selection and provide information requirements for specific majors.
  • Select a major early – Changes in major will cost you time and money.
  • Keep life simple – Over-committing yourself socially and financially takes its toll mentally and physically.
  • Stay focused on your educational goals.  Avoid distractions.
  • Make satisfactory academic progress.
    • Master essential study skills.
    • Seek help from your instructors.
    • Recognize your learning style.
  • Develop coping strategies for the demands of student life.
    • Manage your time wisely.
    • Reduce or learn to cope with stressors.
  •    Utilize your school's resources.


Identity Theft

A laptop computer chained and locked.

Identity theft is the acquisition of key personal information used to impersonate someone else -- alive or dead. It is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States which can destroy your credit and ruin your good name. When your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge, it can cost you time and money to correct. As a victim of identity theft, you may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, or cars, and even get arrested for crimes you did not commit. Identity theft is a serious crime; take it seriously!

Protect Your Information

  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Drivers license number
  • Passwords and PINs
  • Banking information
  • Student ID number
  • Credit card numbers
  • Phone numbers
  • Address
  • Video: Identity Theft Phishing

Common Identity Theft Practices

  • Obtain or take over financial accounts
  • Open new lines of credit
  • Take out loans, or make large purchases
  • Sign lease agreements
  • Establish services with utility companies
  • Write fraudulent checks
  • Purchase goods and services on the Internet

Avoiding Identity Theft

  • Don't carry your SSN card with you
  • Don't preprint driver's license number on checks
  • Shred sensitive information
  • Photo copy all cards in your wallet
  • Select hard to guess PINs and passwords
  • Don't leave mail sitting in an unprotected box
  • Don't give out private information over the phone
  • Order your credit reports
  • Use caution when providing ANY sensitive information


Career Planning

Students studying in a classroom.

Career planning is the combination of structured planning and the active management of one's own professional career. The outcome of successful career management should include personal fulfillment, work/life balance, goal achievement and financial security. The following questions will assist you in planning your future career:

Career goal: What area do you want to work in?

Explore occupations: Do you need to research and explore a variety of different fields including your career choice?

Make a plan: What do you need to do to accomplish your plan?

Get the skills you need: Do you need to take some classes or get a degree?

Occupational Outlook Handbook
The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a publication of the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics that includes information about the nature of work, working conditions, training and education, earnings, and job outlook for hundreds of different occupations. The handbook is released biennially with its companion publication the Career Guide to Industries. The current 2008-2009 edition was released in December 2009 and includes employment projections for the period 2008-2018. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is located at


Quick Links
 •  Michigan Education Trust
 •  Michigan Education Savings Program
 •  MI-LOAN Program
 •  MI Scholarships Online
 •  Michigan Postsecondary Handbook
 •  Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) PDF icon
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