Be savvy with your money (2024)

There is some truth to the myth of the starving and broke graduate student. When I was in grad school, I'd attend almost any meeting with free food. As I improvised yet another dinner of cheese and crackers, I was sometimes jealous of my college classmates who went into business, engineering or other careers that allowed them to make decent money right after graduation.

Since then, money has become an even bigger problem for psychology graduate students. As this issue's cover story points out, student debt is on the rise and will likely become even more burdensome, due to new government policies on graduate student loans.

These harsh realities aren't fun to think about, but being savvy with your money is particularly important when you have little to begin with. Is it really possible to minimize your debt while also investing in your future? Yes. Here are just a few ways:

Track your spending

As any behaviorist knows, it's important to know your habits before you can change them. A variety of free apps, such as, can help you track and categorize your spending through all your bank accounts and credit cards. Some even allow you to compare your spending habits with state and national averages.

Make a budget

Based on your spending, create a monthly budget. Then, stick to it — and reward yourself for meeting your goals with television breaks or other free treats.

Think small

Minor but consistent changes can be even more effective than severe austerity measures. For instance, make coffee at home instead of buying a cappuccino on your way to work each day and you'll save about $20 a week, $80 a month and more than $1,000 a year. Other habits to consider: Pack lunch instead of eating out, cut down on your cellphone minutes, grocery shop with a list and cancel your cable TV.

Think big

If you live by yourself, consider getting a roommate — it can save you hundreds of dollars a month. You might also want to get a low-stress, part-time job, perhaps at a library or a coffee shop, or doing assessments for a clinic.

Borrow less and pay the interest

Using your budget as a guide, borrow as little money in federal loans as possible, and use any extra money you have at the end of the month to pay down the interest on your loans. If you pay your interest while in school, then you can reduce your payments when you graduate.

Invest the money you save

It's hard to think about retirement when you're in your 20s and not earning much, but this is exactly the time to start. Remember, you have two important commodities on your side: time and compound interest. If you invest $1,000 in a mutual fund when you're 22, that money will grow into $31,920 when you're ready to retire at 67 (assuming 8 percent interest annually). If you don't start saving for retirement until you are 32, that same $1,000 investment will only be worth $14,785. Invest this money in a Roth IRA and it will grow tax-free.

Save for retirement

If you're eligible, make automatic contributions to a 401(k) retirement account through your employer — especially if your employer offers a contribution match. By taking advantage of this, you can double your retirement investment. If you don't, you're effectively saying "no thanks" to free money. Also consider opening a Roth IRA, which allows your money to grow tax-free until you withdraw it.

These are tips that I wish I had followed in graduate school. I graduated with $38,000 in debt, which was paid off after I received funding for two years of service in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. But I didn't put away any money for retirement, and now I'm trying to make up for a late start.

So, keep taking advantage of free food, but remember that making a budget and investing some money will go even further toward your long-term financial health.

Be savvy with your money (2024)


What does it mean to be money savvy? ›

There's no magic formula to being financially savvy. It's mostly a matter of planning, common sense, commitment and math. People who are financially savvy focus on preparing for the future and managing their money in a way that builds wealth.

How to be more savvy with money? ›

Here are just a few ways:
  1. Track your spending. As any behaviorist knows, it's important to know your habits before you can change them. ...
  2. Make a budget. Based on your spending, create a monthly budget. ...
  3. Think small. ...
  4. Think big. ...
  5. Borrow less and pay the interest. ...
  6. Invest the money you save. ...
  7. Save for retirement.

What is another word for financially savvy? ›

What is another word for financially savvy?
financially adeptfinancially knowledgeable
financially shrewdfinancially skilled
financially astutemoney-savvy

How to be wise in using your money? ›

7 Money Management Tips to Improve Your Finances
  1. Track your spending to improve your finances. ...
  2. Create a realistic monthly budget. ...
  3. Build up your savings—even if it takes time. ...
  4. Pay your bills on time every month. ...
  5. Cut back on recurring charges. ...
  6. Save up cash to afford big purchases. ...
  7. Start an investment strategy.
Jun 27, 2023

Is savvy a compliment? ›

If you describe someone as having savvy, you think that they have a good understanding and practical knowledge of something. [informal] He is known for his political savvy and strong management skills.

What does it mean to be savvy in something? ›

adjective. , sav·vi·er, sav·vi·est. experienced, knowledgable, and well-informed; shrewd (often used in combination): a tech-savvy entrepreneur. consumers who are savvy about prices; a tech-savvy entrepreneur.

How can I be clever with money? ›

Check out our list of seven habits that might help increase your financial smarts.
  1. Automate whatever you can. ...
  2. Have specific, meaningful goals. ...
  3. Invest. ...
  4. Don't spend that unexpected cash. ...
  5. Prioritise high interest debt. ...
  6. Track your spending. ...
  7. Learn however you can.

How to be budget savvy? ›

Money saving and savvy spending
  1. Step 1: Work out what you're spending.
  2. Step 2: Draw up your personal budget.
  3. Step 3: Save on non-essentials.
  4. Step 4: Find savings on essentials.
  5. Step 5: Make extra money where you can.
  6. How much can I save?
Dec 11, 2023

How do I improve my money mindset? ›

Six Steps to Creating a Positive Money Mindset
  1. Forgive Your Past Financial Mistakes. No one is perfect. ...
  2. Understand Your Thoughts and Emotions Surrounding Money. ...
  3. Realize That Comparing Yourself to Others is a Losing Game. ...
  4. Work on Forming Good Habits. ...
  5. Create a Budget That Brings You Joy. ...
  6. Remember to be Thankful.

How do you use financially savvy in a sentence? ›

However, it might not be the most financially savvy plan. Where do the financially savvy shop and book their travel? And making yourself financially savvy will stop you from focusing on your salary for happiness.

What is a good word for being good with money? ›

Some common synonyms of frugal are economical, sparing, and thrifty. While all these words mean "careful in the use of one's money or resources," frugal implies absence of luxury and simplicity of lifestyle. When might economical be a better fit than frugal?

What does savvy mean in finance? ›

"Financial savvy" is one's knowledge about financial matters. It is more common to say "business savvy" (as a noun), but "financially savvy" (as an adjective. He has a lot of business savvy, and knows when the risks of investment are too high. He isn't very financially savvy.

How do I become more money savvy? ›

Create a Budget and Track Spending

Budgeting Basics: Craft a realistic budget outlining income, expenses, and savings goals. Categorize expenses to identify areas for optimization. Expense Tracking: Use apps or tools to monitor spending patterns, aiding informed decisions and adherence to your budget.

What is the smartest thing to do with money? ›

Pay off debt

One of the best things you can do for your finances is to pay off all of your debt. To get started, focus on your most expensive debt—the credit cards and loans that charge you the highest interest. Once you have paid off all of these debts, focus on paying off your mortgage.

How can I be more sensible with money? ›

How to get into good financial habits
  1. Set a budget. ...
  2. Spend less money. ...
  3. Manage debts. ...
  4. Set a savings goal. ...
  5. Encourage children to save. ...
  6. Think about retirement. ...
  7. Invest for the future.

What does income savvy mean? ›

To be financially savvy, you should have a plan for the future and manage your cash flow with a budget. A budget and a long-term plan clarifies your goals and guides your day-to-day behavior so you can avoid leaving your finances to chance.

How do you describe a money minded person? ›

immoderately desirous of acquiring e.g. wealth. “they are avaricious and will do anything for money” synonyms: covetous, grabby, grasping, greedy, prehensile acquisitive.

What does it mean to be financially savvy or financially literate? ›

Financial literacy is the possession of skills that allows people to make smart decisions with their money. Part of being financially literate is not only understanding the facts about money but also taking the right steps that can lead to the right financial outcomes.

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