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Getting it Together: Tips and Tricks For Bringing Yourself Out of Debt

Loans and credit card debt can easily be ignored as they add up while students remain in school because most do not require repayment until graduation. This mentality causes many post-grads to find themselves drowning in bills, without a clue as to how to budget or prioritize their debt. There are some relatively easy ways to start planning repayment given to UT students through an email interview with Justin Rosen, CPA at his local Tampa firm J. Rosen Financial Data Services, Inc.


When going in to a loan, there can be a lot of difficult language to navigate. What are the key things to look out to benefit yourself?

What is the interest rate you’re paying?  What is your monthly payment?  How much interest will you pay over the LIFE of the loan?  What are the total costs, fees and taxes being added to your loan?  You may be purchasing a $10,000 car but your loan will be $12,000 after all additional costs.

Students often find themselves with a lot of debt coming out of college and don’t know where to start. What are some ways students can start planning to pay off their loans?  

Try to use at least 5% of your earnings to pay back student loans.  Try to pay more each month than your required minimum monthly payment.  Even if you can only pay an extra $10 or $25 or $50 on your student loan each month, it could save you thousands over the life of the loans.

What are some tools available to help manage a personal budget?

Easy and Simple Budgets can be created in Microsoft Excel.  This also gives you great practice in using Excel for the workplace.  Also is a great online tool you can use to track your spending. 

There are a lot of student tax breaks and incentives that many of us probably don’t know about. What are some of the benefits of a personal accountant over a program like TurboTax once tax season comes around?   

TurboTax can prepare your tax return but does not help in TAX PLANNING.  After 12/31, there is little you can do to save on taxes.  Before 12/31, there are multiple ways to reduce your tax burden.  The key with taxes is to plan ahead. Also, when you hire a professional accountant to prepare your taxes, you will feel confident your return is prepared correctly and you will have maximized your deductions.  Preparing your own return can leave uncertainty about if the return was prepared right or if you maximized your deductions.  Students normally have simple returns that can be prepared very cheaply by professionals.

If there is one piece of major finance advice you could give to a young adult, what would it be?

Don’t spend more than you are earning and know where your money is being spent. Also, pay your highest interest rate debt off first.  If you have credit card debit at 19% and student loans at 9% pay your credit cards off first.

What are some of the most common mistakes young adults can make when it comes to credit and credit cards?

Not paying attention to the interest rate and/or fees.  Bank give young people HIGH interest rates because they have no credit history.  If you don’t pay your card off in full every month the $500 you spend can quickly become $600 or $700 after interest and fees. 

What are a few easy tips to help build credit from a young age?

Open a credit card, put only 1 or 2 purchases on this card a month, and pay it off in full.  Do this for about 6 to 9 months before opening another card or asking for a credit increase.

A lot of young adults open up numerous store cards to try and build credit. Are there any benefits to a store credit card over a normal bankcard?

Store cards are easier to get but have MUCH HIGHER interest rates and fees.  Bankcards are harder to get but sometimes have lower interest rates and feel.  Bankcards also offer cash rewards. 


Information provided by Justin Rosen, CPA

J. Rosen Financial Data Service, Inc.


Doha Madani can be reached at


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