There’s no need to be broke in college


Good morning Loves.  Today we have a very special guest joining us, Mel from Broke Girl Rich is here to help our college student and grad readers manage your money and get out of debt.  Mel believes in the value of a good education; 3 degrees and over $20k of debt later she lived to tell the story of her money life in college.  Please welcome her to Blonde & Balanced, she’ll be checking in so feel free to ask her any questions.  Enjoy!

Where did you go to school and what was your degree

I actually went to a lot of school. I attended a state school in NJ for my B.A. and double majored in theatre production and literature. Then I went to Liberty University and got a Masters of Divinity and a few years later I went to the University of Sheffield and got a M.A. in Theater and Performance Studies.

Were you broke in college? 

I had two very different college experiences. For my B.A. and the majority of my Masters of Divinity, my parents footed the bill for anything scholarships didn’t cover.  So I definitely didn’t feel broke then. I had a credit card from (my parents) for emergencies and a pretty good part time job that covered all of my spending needs.

When I went back to school a few years later for my M.A., I definitely felt broke. I footed that entire bill myself between my savings and loans. I knew I would have to pay back every penny I spent, so I was pretty money conscious the entire time.

I took out one traditional student loan from Sallie Mae for $3,000 and then a $20,000 – 0% interest loan from my grandmother.

What’s the biggest money mistake you ever made in college? 

The biggest mistake I made was putting the end of my Masters of Divinity on my credit card. My credit card! For Pete’s sake, the interest rates were RIDICULOUS. I should’ve applied for a traditional student loan for my last semester. I would’ve saved thousands of dollars in interest.

What’s the biggest money mistake you think college students make? 

I think the biggest money mistake is picking WHICH college to attend. Really looking into tuition and related costs should be just as much a part of your search as how good the program is and what campus life is like. Making that one big decision in the right way will save you tens of thousands of dollars.

How did you spend most of your money in college?

I spent most of my money eating out. I feel like I lived in the local diner. Honestly, it could’ve been a lot worse though. I went to school in the Pine Barrens in NJ, so there wasn’t a lot immediately around.  I spent a fair amount on gas just doing stuff like going bowling or going to the movies.

How should college students budget so they’re not broke?

I think students just need to start any budget and their finances will improve like crazy! I never used one in college and never had any clue where my money was going. It’s so much easier to make informed decisions if you just know all the facts.

Maybe all those diner trips are worth it and you’d rather cut back on gas to the movies from time to time? Or maybe once you see how much all those diner trips cost, you cut back once a week and save that money to start your emergency fund instead.

Photo from Flickr

Friday Faves: It’s snowing!

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Happy Friday Loves.  It finally started snowing up here.  Yes I woke up to snow on the ground, is that acceptable for November?  And yes, that’s really the view from my living room window.  I don’t like the cold, actually in general I don’t like any of the elements: rain, wind or snow.  This year the cold weather is taking an extra hard toll on my emotional and mental wellbeing.  I’m not adapting well to the change in cold weather and now I have to get used to snow.  Is it too early to get out my winter jacket?

Enjoy these good reads from our friends:

Savers 4 Life – How we Cut Cable and Save Money Every Month

Some delightful life – What Would You Do If You Couldn’t Fail?

Budget Blonde – How An Emergency Fund Saved My Family

Fit Triangle Mom – Energize Your Exercise

Festively Prepped – WOW Your Dinner Guests with These Easy Thanksgiving Desserts

Red Debted Stepchild – Financial Implications of Workaholism


How to Pay off Your Mortgage Sooner

Being completely debt free, mortgage and all, is an amazing yet audacious goal. And finding strategies to pay off your mortgage sooner is how you’re going to get there.

If you’re ready to buckle down and put in the work, you’ll be able to reap the awesome results off having your mortgage paid off early.

Here are three strategies to take you there!

Refinance to a Lower Rate

If you got your mortgage more than five years ago then you might be better off refinancing. While mortgage rates aren’t the lowest they have been, they are still pretty darn incredible compared to what were offered just ten years ago.

Do some research and find out what kind of interest rate you’d qualify for based on your current credit score. If it looks like you can get a lower rate – go for it. Just make sure you choose a mortgage that suits your needs.

Refinancing your mortgage to a lower rate can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan. Not to mention if you keep paying the same amount you did with the higher rate all that extra cash will go straight to principal!

Pay Extra Toward the Principle Every Month

Another no-brainer tactic that works is paying extra toward your principle each and every month.

When you pay extra your principal will be reduced which means you’ll also be paying less in interest! Pay as much extra as you possibly can to get that mortgage paid off sooner.

Make a Payment Every Two Weeks

When you pay your mortgage bi-weekly instead of monthly one extra payment ends of being made each year.

This is the perfect solution for someone who doesn’t have a bunch of extra money to throw at the principal but still wants to make a difference.  That extra payment also means you can pay your mortgage off an average of eight years sooner.

The best thing is you won’t even notice the difference between paying monthly or bi-weekly!


If you really want to pay your mortgage off early there are ways to get there. Even if you can’t afford to double your house payment, you can make smart movies like refinancing to a lower rate and paying your mortgage bi-weekly.

Those tasks won’t take a lot of effort on your part but could shave many years off the life of your mortgage.

How to Avoid Going Over Budget

Many people struggle with their personal finances for one reason, which is that they don’t take the time to really think things through. Many people just spend what feels like a reasonable amount considering their finances. For some, this tactic may work, especially if they make far more than they actually need. For those who do not have nearly as much to spare, though, accidentally overspending by even a small amount can ruin a budget. These tips can help.

Consider all of the costs of every purchase

People often overlook some costs that are associated with purchases, leading them not to budget enough. For example, being able to make a car payment is one thing, but you also need to have enough money for car insurance, the title, the registration and any repairs. People should get car insurance quotes and look up cost of ownership statistics for specific models so that they know what the real monthly price will be.

Leave room for the unexpected

Sometimes, people will simply stretch their budget too far. This is often because they want something like a bigger house, and so they become desperate to prove to themselves that they can afford it. You must remember to not budget every last cent that you make. Leave room for unexpected costs, such as home repairs or medical bills. If you don’t end up spending the money that way, you can always move it over to your savings account, but at least you’ll have it if you need it.

Keep records of all purchases

This used to mean saving your receipts, but you don’t have to do that anymore if you pay for everything with a credit card and then pay off the card with the money from your bank account every month via an online transfer. Your card statement will have a perfect record of everything so that you can balance your budget at the end of the month.

Don’t overspend when you get extra money

If you get a gift, for example $200 on your birthday, make sure that you don’t spend more than you actually received. Many people will go out and buy something that they’ve wanted that costs $300 or $400, thinking that the extra $200 made it seem like they’re getting a great deal. What you’re really doing is overspending, which is not wise if it’s not in your budget.