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by Vault Education Editors | March 31, 2009

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How can you achieve your dreams when faced with the reality of education loan debt? The following 12 habits can help you realize your financial goals and fulfill your educational and professional dreams. Getting into these habits can be a strategy for success both in-school and after graduation, and allow you to be responsible in financing your education.

    1.Identify your goals (personal, professional, and financial) and write them down. Develop strategies for achieving those goals and reassess them periodically. 2.Make informed choices about how to use your scarce new resources.

    3.Develop a monthly budget and stick to it. Live below your means and learn to stretch your dollars while in school so that you can afford to live the lifestyle you want once you graduate. Live a lifestyle you can afford.

    4.Save a little each month (even if only $5), so that you'll have funds available for emergencies.

    5.Keep accurate, well-organized records of your financial activities.

    6.Establish and maintain a strong credit history; review your credit report annually.

    7.Pay all your bills prior to the due date.

    8.Borrow the minimum amount you need to achieve your goals and repay all that you borrow. Also evaluate the impact of borrowing before you borrow. Consider whether you'll be able to afford and repay the loan(s) and will be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do so. Make adjustments in your borrowing if necessary.

    9.Be a well-informed borrower. Understand the terms and conditions of the loan(s) you borrow, as well as your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. Not all loans (nor lenders) are alike; know the differences and borrow wisely.

    10.Limit the number of credit cards you have as well as your available credit.

    11.Pay your credit card balance in full each month; charge only what you know you can repay when the bill arrives. Better yet, consume with cash, not credit!

    12.Be realistic about how much money you'll earn once you graduate; don't count on any immediate financial windfalls.

You can also use our online in-school and out-of-school budget calculators to help plan your finances.

Good luck in achieving your goals. Remember, you're making an important financial investment in yourself. Be proud of it, and make well-informed choices about how you manage your finances.

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Filed Under: Education

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