The Jill Ker Conway Innovation Center is not responsible for and does not guarantee, nor endorse, the content, products or services provided on this page, nor on sites hyperlinked from this page. None of the information provided here is intended to substitute for professional financial guidance. The faculty, staff and student interns of the center do not provide financial advice.
Since 2001, Smith has paved the way for students to understand the financial implications of all that they choose to do with their lives. By learning about personal finance, they are much better equipped to make important decisions by design rather than by default. Our resource pages provide ready access to information for anyone unable to join us in person.
Smith Survival Guide
Quick Link References
Developed by Professor Randy Bartlett, Financing Life
There are two important components to a budget: income and outflow. Check out any one the following resources designed to help you track your every dollar to ensure that your outflow doesn't exceed your income.
Budgeting 101 from About.com: Everything you need to know about budgeting.
The Easy Guide to Budgeting from MoneyGeek.com: Simple guide to budgeting for college students and families.
Making a Budget: CNN Money analysts provide a step-by-step guide to gaining control over your financial life. Tips for keeping your spending under control so that you get the most of every dollar.
Student Budget Plans that Work: Creating a student budget plan is an important step every student can take to assess his or her financial wellness. A college student budget can help you keep track of your expenses, analyze your assets and income and set financial goals for yourself.
College Budgeting Videos
- What College Students Need to Know About Money!
- Financial Literacy in College
- Financial Literacy: Nine Things a College Student Should Know
You can often find discounted airline tickets on these sites. Once you find a good deal from these websites, go directly to the official site of the flight company, and you will get an even cheaper price most of the time.
Careers & Networking
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Personal Financial Planning Center: Information on CPA/PFS (Certified Public Accountant/Personal Financial Specialist) professionals, how to find one, as well as general information and resources for financial planning.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards: Provides information and resources both to financial planning professionals and to consumers. A list of "Top Ten Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Planner"
Women for Hire: A hub of recruitment services for women, this site offers career expos, blogs and feature articles as well as an online job board that connects leading employers with professional women.
Women on Business: The goal of Women on Business is to expand the international network of businesswomen online by promoting conversation on common issues.
Credit & Credit Cards
Credit is borrowed money that you can use to purchase things you need when you need them and then repay the funds back at an agreed time. Services can also be paid for on credit such as cable and telephone services. For example, if you use telephone or cable services for a month or two and then pay for them at the end of that period, you are receiving services on credit. Common types of credit include student loans, mortgages, as well as personal loans or lines of credit. The most common "personal line of credit" is the credit card. Source: wiseGeek.com
Credit cards can be useful tools or dangerous weapons, depending on how you use them. Here are some resources for learning how credit cards work, and how to be a smart credit card user.
Bankrate: This page is a portal to information on nearly every aspect of credit card ownership, including current interest rates, types of credit cards, the pros and cons of credit card use, how to avoid and/or manage credit card debt, and more.
Choosing and Using Credit Cards: This page provides an overview of credit card terminology, credit card costs and features, information on what to look for when shopping for a credit card, and how to protect your cards and personal information.
Credit Monitoring Guide: Information to help you learn about how credit impacts your finances.
Credit Card Insider: the latest information on what card company to choose from.
Credit Card Debt
The average credit card debt in America is $8,400 and the typical American family pays $1,200 a year in interest on credit card debt.Source: www.bankrate.com.
Credit Card Definitions: Includes detailed information on credit card terms.
Eight Things A Credit Card User Should Know: This page details crucial information anyone who uses a credit card, or who is thinking about obtaining one, should know.
Good vs Bad Debt: Learn the difference between good debt and bad debt.
Smart Ways for College Students to Use Credit Cards: This page informs college students of the pitfalls of credit cards and provides tips about using credit cards wisely.
Opt Out of Prescreened Offers: OptOutPrescreen.com is the official consumer credit reporting industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to be removed from all lists of unsolicited offers of credit or insurance. You can also contact them by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
Credit repair is of immense importance and the need of the hour for all those who hold bad credit.
Having bad or poor or sub-prime credit is like bearing a curse. Holders of bad or adverse credit are disadvantaged in all their loan or credit seeking ventures. They are either not provided the loans they apply for or they are made to pay higher interest rates and made to accept certain unfavorable terms while settling for their loans.
Credit repair is the only way to be redeemed from the miseries of bad credit holding. The special significance of credit repair stems from the fact that a consumer's credit record or credit score is considered to influence her/his future purchasing power and eligibility of having any credit facilities in the future. Thus, lenders or creditors can feel confident in extending lower rates of interest and longer terms on credit card balances and all types of loans car loans, home loans.
Credit/Debt Management: Blemished credit is both stressful and costly, but it's not the end. There are 10 things you can do right now to begin improve your credit score.
Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair: Bankrate.com's recommended credit repair guide, since "credit repair services can't do anything for you that you can't do for yourself, free."
Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself: Provides information about credit repair scams. It outlines ways for you to repair your own credit.
Secret History of the Credit Card...Where You Can Go: Resources for those who find themselves in financial trouble because of credit card debt.
Spotting Credit Repair, Counseling Scams: Tips for avoiding scam credit repair companies.
The 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Repairing Their Credit: Find out some common mistakes people make when trying to "fix" their credit which can be easily avoided.
Credit Reporting Agencies
It is your right to obtain your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies FOR FREE once a year to see what is reported by your creditors (loan issuers, banks, utility companies, etc.) about your payment behavior.
These agencies are:
It's a good idea to check your credit reports at least once a year to make sure everything is reported accurately and to correct any errors that you might find there. In today's society, your credit reports will also help you determine if someone has illegally obtained your information and/or is using your identity. You can obtain your free credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.
NOTE: Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont state laws also entitled their residents to one free copy from each agency at any time during a twelve-month period. This means residents of these states can request TWO FREE reports per agency per year. You can receive a free copy of your credit report under other circumstances: if you've been turned down for a loan, you can get a copy of your report from the agency whose information the creditor used if you request it within 30 days of being turned down. You can also request a free credit report if you're unemployed and looking for work, receiving public assistance or a victim of fraud.
Understanding Your Credit Score
Information about your credit use and payment habits is reported by your creditors - credit card companies, student loan lenders, mortgage companies, auto lenders, and more - which becomes your "financial resume."
This information is then used to generate a three digit credit score, ranging from 300-850, which helps lenders determine whether to extend you credit as well as the interest rate you'll be charged. Many employers and landlords now check your credit history and score as an important indicator of your "financial character."
Improve Your Credit Score: Suggestions for attaining and keeping a positive credit score.
Credit Scores: What You Should Know About Your Own: This page thoroughly explains the credit reporting system and gives helpful advice to consumers concerning their credit report and score.
FICO Score Estimator: Answer ten easy questions, and this site will give you a free estimated range for your three FICO scores.
FICO Scores: FICO scores are provided to lenders by the major credit reporting agencies. They provide the best guide to future risk based solely on credit report data.
Entrepreneurship among women continues to expand at a fast pace - women-owned businesses have opened at twice the rate of those owned by men. Whether you're a woman or a man thinking about starting your own business, the resources below can help you no matter what step of the process you are on.
Eweb's Entrepreneurship Education Resources: Help for different audiences such as students, faculty, and entrepreneurs. Managed by St. Louis University.
Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation Entrepreneurship Initiatives: Many students have a true entrepreneurial spirit. The EI informs, supports, and inspires student entrepreneurs. Equally important, it recognizes and awards students for their entrepreneurial spirit and exemplary business plans.
Doing it For Themselves: Women Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur: Features success stories of women entrepreneurs and tips on owning a business.
WomenBiz.gov: Information about selling to the federal government, how to get started, finding your market, and business opportunities.
Women's Business Enterprise National Council: Information about how to get a business to become certified and the benefits associated with certification.
Business Tools for Women: Business tools and information for any woman who wants to start a business of her own.
Entrepreneurial Competitions and Funding
Draper University of Heroes: Learn about a world-class school for innovative young entrepreneurs.
VentureWell: Hosts several national business and technology competitions throughout the year.
General Online Resources
Babson College Center for Entrepreneurial Studies: An index of full-text papers and abstracts from the frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. Most of the researchers have won awards or have been recognized for their work.
Entrepreneurial Insights: Find guides on how to start and grow companies, write business plans, pitch to investors and recruit key talent on this site.
The Entrepreneurs Network: Information, contacts and counsel for inventors and entrepreneurs (pre-startup through early stage).
Entrepreneurship.org: Monthly features covering a variety of topics.
Global Entrepreneurship Institute: Provides online informational support for entrepreneurs, business students and faculty interested in starting, running and growing businesses.
MIT Entrepreneurship Center: Specifically focused on technology-based entrepreneurship.
The Top Entrepreneurship Resource Online: Started by a 19 year old college student, offers tips and resources for entrepreneurs of all types.
United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Has information divided into the following areas: Corporate Entrepreneurship, Minority and Women, Entrepreneurship Education, Small Business, Family Business, International Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship in the Arts.
U.S. Business Advisor Home Page: Info about business development, taxes, laws and regulations, international trade, etc.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Essential information on filing patents and trademarks, as well an archive/index of currently-held patents.
U.S. Small Business Administration: Learn how to start, grow, finance a business. Information about business opportunities and business disaster assistance is also available.
WSJ Small Business Resources: Recent articles on trends, resources, and reference materials specifically geared for the small business owner.
Pioneer Valley Community Resources
The Capital Network: A community that has been educating and connecting entrepreneurs with investors for over 20 years.
Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network: Provides high-quality, in-depth counseling, training and capital access which contributes to the entrepreneurial growth of small businesses throughout Massachusetts. Our services are delivered through a network of skilled professional staff supported by a federal, state, and higher education consortium as well as several partnerships.
Echoing Green: Documents news, trends, and the true life of social entrepreneurs.
Net Impacts: An international nonprofit organization whose mission is to make a positive impact on society by growing and strengthening a community of leaders who use business to improve the world.
Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship: The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship identifies a select community of social entrepreneurs and engages it in shaping global, regional and industry agendas that improve the state of the world.
Social Entrepreneurship and Enterprise: Provides information about what social entrepreneurship is as well as tips on how to get connected to the growing community of social entrepreneurs.
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Strategies, tools and ideas for nonprofits, foundations and socially responsible businesses.
TED Talk: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: Women entrepreneurs, example not exception
Studies show that women in general—and college-age women in particular—tend to avoid dealing with matters of personal finance. Here are some helpful resources to get you started.
LearnVest: Easy-to-understand financial advice, information and tools for women hoping to take control of their financial lives.
WIFE: Women's Institute of Financial Education.
360 Degrees of Financial literacy: 360 Degrees of Financial literacy is a national volunteer effort of the nation's Certified Public Accountants to help Americans understand their personal finances and develop money management skills. It focuses on financial education as a lifelong endeavor - from children learning about the value of money to adults reaching a secure retirement.
MyMoney.gov: A website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education, including buying homes, investing in 401(k). It also provides important information from 20 Federal agencies and Bureaus.
Personal Finance Calculators from Bankrate.com: A page full of personal finance calculators, covering everything from auto loans to retirement savings.
Practical Money Skills: Offers financial literacy lessons, resources, games and calculators.
5 Life-Changing Ted Talks about Personal Finance:Watch these five fascinating Ted Talks and learn more about credit cards and debit cards, saving, investing, and entrepreneurship.
Financial Accounting Videos
If you're thinking about hiring a professional to help you manage your money, the following resources may be useful to you. Since there are quite a few financial planning services available to people at different income levels and life stages, it's always a good idea to investigate your options before getting involved with a particular financial planner.
Financial Planning Association: Find a CFP professional near you. Helpful questions to interview a financial planner provided.
News and Commentary: Online home of Financial Planning magazine and offers news, commentary and community for financial planners and financial planning professionals.
If you're renting your living space, you want to make sure you know what to expect and what is expected of you when you sign a lease or rental agreement, and you also want to know what your rights are as a renter. If you're buying a home, which is often the single most expensive purchase a person will make, there are many factors to consider - getting a mortgage, types of mortgages available, interest rates, how your credit rating affects the home buying process, to name a few.
International Cost of Living Comparison: A website that compares the comprehensive information from food to entertainment. You can make smarter choices for where to live with this help of cost of living comparison.
Loans and Mortgages: This website from FDIC provides helpful information about choosing the right mortgages and loans for your housing needs.
Mortgage-Calc.com: Contains a wide range of calculators, both for home buying, as well as for car leases, AMT Tax Calculator, Tuition Savings Calculator, and more.
Mortgage Pages from Bankrate.com's: Contains information on mortgage basics; a glossary of mortgage terms; mortgage calculators; articles on obtaining mortgages; and current interest rate information as well as analysis of the housing/mortgage markets.
Rentlaw.com: Provides a landlord/tenant guide and gives you the option to look up specific laws that deal with renting by state.
Credit cards and ATM/debit/bank check cards are popular targets for thieves in the real world and in the cyber-world.
Identity theft: most often accomplished when a thief obtains an individual's Social Security number and date of birth, and uses them to establish credit for him/herself - is growing at an alarming rate. It's important to safeguard your information and your finances against the damage that identity theft can cause.
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Site: "Your National Resource For ID Theft," and a good place to go if you believe your information has been stolen. Information on what to do right away, how to follow up, and how to fight back and prevent it from happening again. Also contains statistics and information on identity theft, what to do if your identity has been stolen, and how to avoid being victimized by identity theft.
Identity Theft and Fraud: This FDIC portal provides step-by-step information that consumers should take to protect personal computers against identity theft. Also has list of things to do if you should fall victim to an identity thief.
The United States Department of Justice: Provides full explanation regarding why individuals need to take precautions to protect against identity theft. Also has an Identity Theft Quiz
At some point in everyone's life, insurance becomes an issue. Whether it's life, health, disability, automobile or homeowners insurance, there are always questions: What kinds are available? What and how much insurance do I need? How much will it cost me? The resources below are designed to help you determine the best way to protect yourself...fnancially speaking.
7 Cheap Auto Insurance "tricks": Some of the top tricks to save you money when it comes time to renew your policy
7 Best Ways to Save Money on Car Insurance: Tips for getting the best insurance for your needs
American Automobile Association (AAA): Motor club and leisure travel organization serving North America
Auto Insurance Quotes: Suggestions about how to avoid giving out your personal information while comparing online auto insurance quotes
Auto Insurance Terms and Definitions: Learn the language of the industry so that you don't get taken for a ride
About Disability Insurance.com: Incorporates comprehensive information about disability insurance contract so that the consumers will make a more informed decision on buying the insurance
Important Factors to Consider: Tips you can use when you start shopping for disability insurance
Protect Your Finances With Disability Insurance: Covers the main reasons people have disability insurance
Social Security Disability Help: Social Security Disability Help provides information and assistance to individuals who are interested in filing a disability claim for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits
U.S. Social Security Administration Website: Information about disability benefits can be found here
What to Look For: Straightforward information with a table of contents link
Short Term Health Insurance: This site provides useful information and comparison tools with regard to short term insurance
Medicare, Medigap, and Medicaid: Provides a comparison table of features of the three terms above. Help you to better choose a medical insurance plan
MedLine Plus Guide to Health Insurance: The National Institutes of Health's guide to gaining information about health insurance and choosing coverage
Questions and Answers About Insurance: A Consumer Guide: Discusses coverage options including group versus individual insurance, different types of health insurance like fee for service and HMOs. Also offers tips on choosing the health insurance provide and plan that is right for you
Disaster Recovery Assistance: Provides information about assistance to disaster victims. It also includes income and job assistance as well as key announcements in the event of natural disasters
Insurance Information Institute: This site explains what is in a standard homeowners policy, what kind of coverage exists for co-ops and condos, what disasters are covered, and more basics. It also contains sections on how to save money when buying a policy, how to file a claim, and tips for homeowners
Renters' Insurance Information: Homeowners aren't the only ones who should think about insuring their possessions and property. Renters can purchase insurance as well. This link has information on what renters insurance is, why it's important, and how to get it
Why Should I Buy House Insurance: Explains the advantage of buying house insurance
6 Myths about Buying Life Insurance: Provides information that is helpful in avoiding mistakes that could have long lasting consequences
CNN Money: Contains detailed information about life insurance including web shopping and how much coverage is necessary
Life Insurance Basics: A blog talks about distinctions of different types of life insurance and money-saving tips for buying insurances
Permanent Insurance: Offers tips for buying permanent insurance and how to decide which kind is right for you
Resources: Protect your family by understanding your options for quality life insurance
Types of life insurance: Know about the various types and choose the best one for you
Critical Considerations: Provides a comprehensive things to consider when shopping for a long-term care policy, including whether you should be shopping for one at all
Glossary of Terms: Definitions for terms related to long-term care insurance
Pros & Cons of Long Term Health Insurance: This article explains the benefits and limitations you should consider before buying long term health insurance
Whether you're still a student, a recent graduate, or have been out in the world for a long time, figuring out where your money is going and planning where you want it to go is the first step toward achieve your financial goals. The below resources are intended to help you save money on living expenses, and design budgets and saving plans that suit your needs now and for the future.
190 Resources for Saving Money: Comprehensive guide to 190 of the best budgeting tools, deals and coupon sites, rate comparison engines, and personal finance resources online. This list has everything you need to start saving money immediately.
Debt-Proof Living: Articles, resources and advice to debt-proof your life, together with time, money-saving and frugal living tips
How Much Should I Have in My 401K? Balance by Age: An article with an in-depth look at retirement contributions, and answers the question "how much you should have saved in your 401k by age?"
Filing taxes can be a confusing process, especially if you've never filed your own income tax return before. General information and links to tax forms are below, as well as information specifically for students who are filing their own returns.
Help With Your Taxes
The Isenberg School of Management offers one-on-one help for students with their taxes.
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4–6 p.m.
February 19th - no VITA due to UMass holiday schedule
No services the week of March 10 due to spring recess
If the UMass campus is closed, so is the VITA site.
Room G35, Basement of Isenberg
This is a first come, first service program and appointments are not available.
Please bring your 2018 copy of your filed tax return, have your valid social security or ltin numbers, your health care provider EIN and your member number (1099-HC), all W-2s, 1098-T, 1099s and any other tax related information if it applies.
Your taxes from A to Z: ABC: List of terms and definitions.
Federal Tax Forms and Publications: This section of the IRS website contains links to tax forms, new changes, instructions, previous year forms and more.
Free Tax Help and information: Tax questions, answers, and info. Advice on returns, deductions, tax rebates, and credits. Tax strategies on federal IRS forms and state tax return.
IRS Tax Information for Individuals: Provides links to tools and information regarding taxes. Some links include a withholding calculator, information about late payment, tax extensions, locating refunds, and resources to help with tax filing.
Massachusetts Tax Forms and Publications: The MA Department of Revenue site contains links to current tax forms, instructions, previous year forms and more.
Recovering Excess FICA Payments: Provides information on how you can get your Social Security tax money back as a credit on your individual tax return.
IRS Withholding Calculator: Not sure how much federal tax to have taken out of your paycheck? This calculator is intended to help taxpayers decide how many withholding allowances to take in their paychecks, based on your income, pay frequency, filing status and other factors.
Paycheck Withholding Calculator: Wondering what the difference between your gross pay and your net pay will be? The personal calculators on this site will allow you to estimate what your take-home pay will be, based on your inputs
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on tax filing: An index covering a wide array of tax information and common questions/concerns.
Getting the most from the Itemized Deductions: A list of often overlooked itemized deductions that you may be eligible to use the next time you file.
File Your Own Taxes: Comprehensive information on state and federal taxes, deductions and the filing process.
Tax Basics: Step-by-step instructions on filing taxes
IRS e-file Using A Tax Professional (Internal Revenue Service): Information about filing your federal income tax return electronically using an authorized IRS e-file Provider.
Tax Guide for Students
IRS Tax Guide For Students: A comprehensive resource to assist you in understanding your obligations as a tax payer. Includes information about tax forms, filing returns, and much more.
A Tax Guide for Students and Parents: Guide to deductions and savings opportunity available for college students and their parents.
Tax Information for International Students and Scholars: Binghamton University's Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) offers information and guidelines for preparing income tax returns international students and scholars.
Filing Tax Returns: Isenberg School of Management's International Students and Scholars Office provides detailed information about tax returns for international students and scholars.
International Student Tax Return: Provides information and guides for international students in the U.S. to prepare for tax filing.
MoneyGeek.com: A saver's guide to eating and living well curated to fit the lifestyle of a college student.
Catalyst: Studies women and men across levels, functions, and geographies to learn about women's experiences in business, barriers to their career advancement, and individual and organizational strategies leading to success.
Corporette: Fashion and lifestyle blog for corporate women: lawyers, bankers, MBAs, consultants and "otherwise overachieving chicks."
The Dollar Stretcher: Assortment of articles and advice on making your money go as far as possible, as well as information on current money issues. Offers an expansive searchable archive of articles.
Daily Worth for Women: A personal finance and business site for women updated daily with money tips and blog posts.
Dames Bond: A networking site for women in business. In addition to feature articles on advice, it features an extensive business directory of female services and businesses.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: A fun, interactive site that teaches kids about banking and the FDIC.
Financial Literacy: A Guide to Your Finances: A compilation of commonly used terms in financial education.
The Frugal Village: Tips on frugal living from cooking to recycling used items in a smart way.
Lucky Dog Investing: Teaches kids helpful investing skills.
TED Talk: Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders.
Wi$e Up.com: A website sponsored by Texas A&M University about financial planning for Generation X & Y Women.
Women's Success Coaching: A blog from success coach Bonnie Marcus, Women's Success Coaching weighs in on the many building blocks of empowering women in business, from assertive communication to self-promotion to sensitivity training.