Dollars & Sense: A New (Leap) Year’s Resolution

by Mary Gordon, IT Program Mentor

Financial Literacy New Year's Resolution

At WGU, each student is assigned a personal faculty member to work with them as a mentor throughout their time at WGU. Additionally, each course has its own course instructors, subject-matter experts who are available to help students get through course material. Advice from your mentors and instructors is invaluable as you make your way through your online degree program. But we also want you to benefit from the wisdom of faculty not necessarily assigned to you, so occasionally, The Night Owl features advice from WGU faculty in colleges throughout the university.

2016 is here. Happy New Year!

The New Year is the time for making resolutions. Unfortunately, we often make resolutions that we abandon before the year ends. But what if you were given a resolution you would be more likely to keep because it has the potential to reduce stress and help you enjoy life more?

With resolutions, we don’t plan to fail; we just fail to properly plan. When it comes to financial planning, many of us are a little naïve. So when we make resolutions to save more and spend less, somehow, some way things always go awry. This causes us a lot of stress and can stop us from participating in things we enjoy.

Let’s face it. Money is a BIG deal! Whatever stage of life you’re in, money—or a lack thereof—is part of it. So when you make your resolutions for the New Year, add money management to the list. Knowing just a few financial fundamentals could save you a lot of dollars—and that makes a lot of sense!

Here are some cool financial tools for kids, teens, and adults on saving, spending, borrowing, and paying taxes ... yes, taxes, because April will be here sooner than you think!

iGrad for WGU
iGrad is a free financial literacy tool. The site contains videos and articles devoted to helping students make wise financial decisions. You can find information on financial aid/loans, budgeting, credit management, getting out of debt, saving money, identity theft, and building an “emergency fund” ... and much more.

You can learn this valuable information while playing fun, interactive games like “Budget Hero,” “ID Theft Faceoff,” and “Financial Football”!

CNN Money Essentials
On this site, you can find information for getting a job, buying a car, investing, buying a house, starting a family, and planning for retirement. Just hover over the icons for the dropdown menus. You will find several subheadings under each topic. For example: 401(k)s, taxes, health insurance, kids and money, stocks, bonds, buying life insurance, etc.

“Tax Breaks College Students Should Know About”
Got student loans? You may be eligible to deduct as much as $2,500 on your tax return. Don’t forget about the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

“Setting Financial Goals”
Stop spending just to meet day-to-day expenses. Here are some goals to consider. Check out the “Getting Started” link.

Budgeting 101
What are you spending ... on the house? …On living expenses? …On investments? …On federal, state, and local taxes? Use this handy calculator to know what should be coming in and going out.

Itemize or Standard Deductions?
What’s best for you? Here are six tips to help you choose the best option for your situation.

Leap into action this year with a new financial plan. In 2016, you will have 366 days to increase your financial know-how, reduce your stress, and start enjoying life more.

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