17. Get a money buddy. According to one study, friends with similar traits can pick up good habits from each other—and it applies to your money too! So try gathering several friends for regular money lunches, like this woman did, paying off $35,000 of debt in the process.
How to … Amp Up Your Earning Potential
18. When negotiating a salary, get the company to name figures first. If you give away your current pay from the get-go, you have no way to know if you’re lowballing or highballing. Getting a potential employer to name the figure first means you can then push them higher. Learn more in Negotiating 101.
19. You can negotiate more than just your salary. Your work hours, official title, maternity and paternity leave, vacation time and which projects you’ll work on could all be things that a future employer may be willing to negotiate. Read on for tips.
20. Don’t assume you don’t qualify for unemployment. At the height of the recent recession, only half of people eligible for unemployment applied for it. Learn the rules of unemployment.
21. Make salary discussions at your current job about your company’s needs. Your employer doesn’t care whether you want more money for a bigger house—they care about keeping a good employee. So when negotiating pay or asking for a raise, emphasize the incredible value you bring to the company.
How to … Keep Debt at Bay
22. Start with small debts to help you conquer the big ones. If you have a mountain of debt, studies show paying off the little debts can give you the confidence to tackle the larger ones. You know, like paying off a modest balance on a department store card before getting to the card with the bigger balance. Of course, we generally recommend chipping away at the card with the highest interest rate, but sometimes psyching yourself up is worth it.
23. Don’t ever cosign a loan. No, really—don’t. If the borrower—your friend, family member, significant other, whatever—misses payments, your credit score will take a plunge, the lender can come after you for the money, and it will likely destroy your relationship. Plus, if the bank is requiring a cosigner, the bank doesn’t trust the person to make the payments. Don’t believe us? Read this cosigning horror story. Bonus tip for parents: If you’re asked to cosign a private loan for your college student, first check to see if your kid has maxed out federal loan, grant and scholarship options.
24. Every student should fill out the FAFSA! Even if you don’t think that you’ll get aid, it doesn’t hurt to fill out the form. That’s because 1.3 million students last year missed out on a Pell Grant—which doesn’t need to be paid back!—because they didn’t fill out the form.